Mitsubishi cuts U.S. price of electric car by 20 pct

DETROIT Wed Dec 4, 2013 10:36am EST

DETROIT Dec 4 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp has cut the price of its i-MiEV subcompact electric car in the United States by 20 percent for the 2014 model year, joining the parade of automakers who have lowered EV prices to boost demand.

The Japanese automaker said on Tuesday that it would cut the price of the i-MiEV by $6,130 over the previous 2012 model to $23,845 when the new version goes on sale in the spring. After a $7,500 federal tax credit, the price starts at $16,345.

California residents can receive up to another $2,500 in EV incentives, which would lower the price to $13,845.

"The main intention for us was to re-analyze the EV and subcompact landscape. It has changed quite a bit since when we launched the car, with different competitor electric vehicles being launched," Mitsubishi spokesman Roger Yasukawa said.

He added that Mitsubishi also wanted to make the car similar in price to the company's gasoline-powered subcompact Mirage car, which starts at $13,790.

Plug-in vehicles like the i-MiEV have not received strong support from U.S. consumers, in part because of their higher prices and lack of a nationwide battery charging network.

U.S. sales of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles in the first 11 months of 2013 totaled 564,287, according to research firm Autodata. That represents just 4 percent of total new-vehicle sales.

Among the automakers slashing the prices or offering aggressively priced lease deals on their EVs this year are Toyota Motor Corp, General Motors Co, Daimler AG , Ford Motor Co, Fiat, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co .

Through the first 11 months of the year, sales of the i-MiEV have almost doubled to 1,018 vehicles. However, in November alone they slumped 71 percent from a year ago to 12.

Mitsubishi said that in addition to the price cut, the new i-MiEV also will have an expanded standard equipment package that includes heated front seats, a quick-charge port, a battery warming system and heated side view mirrors.