2008 New York Auto Show: Mitsubishi i, i MiEV

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  • Looks like: Something a meter maid would drive
  • Defining characteristics: Small size, electric power plant
  • Ridiculous features: “Minority Report” looks
  • Chance of being mass-produced: These are already on sale in Japan, but the chance they’ll come to the U.S. is less than 50%

Mitsubishi’s tiny i minicar has been on sale in Japan since 2006, but the company will display it at a U.S. auto show for the first time next week at the 2008 New York International Auto Show. The gasoline version isn’t a concept but a production model, while an electric-powered version called the i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) is a concept.

The concept i MiEV will sit next to the i at the show and has a small electric motor that the company says is a better performer than the small, 64-hp gasoline engine already on sale. It has a lithium-ion battery, and Mitsubishi says it can travel 100 miles on a single charge. The kicker is, the i MiEV will go on sale in Japan in 2009.

The i car (133.7 inches) is a couple feet longer than a Smart ForTwo (106.1 inches) and about a foot shorter than a Mini Cooper (146.2 inches). We’d guess it could pass U.S. safety regulations, but Mitsubishi is pretty mum on its intentions when it comes to putting it on sale in the U.S. That makes us wonder why the company would bother showing the cars at the New York show. Perhaps it just wants some green-friendly publicity. What do you think? With the Toyota iQ possibly coming to the states, is there room for another similar model? Or even the electric one? A few more photos below.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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