NEW YORK -- Mitsubishi Motors North America set the starting price for its i electric vehicle at just under $30,000, excluding delivery, making it the least expensive all-electric vehicle in the United States when it goes on sale late this year.
The egg-shaped small EV will start at $27,990, plus shipping, Mitsubishi said at the New York auto show Thursday. After a $7,500 federal tax credit, the car will start at $20,490. Mitsubishi hasn't set the delivery charge for the i, but its other vehicles carry a $780 freight charge.
The all-electric Nissan Leaf has a base sticker price of $33,630, including delivery, before federal tax incentives.
The i will have a real-world driving range of about 85 miles, said Yoichi Yokozawa, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America.
Yokozawa said the company expects to sell about 2,000 i units annually in the United States.
Customers may place pre-orders at i.mitsubishicars.com beginning Friday -- Earth Day -- with a $299.00 deposit using PayPal, plus another $99.99 for a home inspection. The inspection is needed to make sure the home electrical system can handle charging the i. The first 2,000 customers who place deposits and take possession of the cars will have the home inspection fee waived.
After the inspection, a Mitsubishi dealer will finalize orders.
The first deliveries to retail customers likely will happen in January 2012, Yokozawa said.
The i is Mitsubishi's opening salvo in its effort to reinvent itself as a global leader of electric and fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles.
The i will be joined by two plug-in hybrids to be launched in the United States within the next three years, said Yokozawa, who was named last month to Mitsubishi's top post in North America.
The i's pricing announcement comes as Mitsubishi's sales are on the upswing. Through March, Mitsubishi sold 20,167 new vehicles, up 48 percent from the first quarter last year.