Mitsubishi i beats Nissan Leaf in efficiency tests

Mitsubishi's "i" electric vehicle is more efficient than the Nissan Leaf, US authorities have confirmed.

The Mitsubishi i, a version of the i-MiEV adopted by the Japanese automaker for the US market, was given a combined city+highway 112 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalency, a measure used for electric vehicles), by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the vehicle's manufacturer announced July 7.

In November 2010, the EPA gave the Nissan Leaf a rating of 99 miles per gallon equivalency, shortly before the Leaf began shipping to consumers in December.

Deliveries of the the Mitsubishi i are set to begin in early 2012, and the new figures will be a welcome boost to Mitsubishi - along with the news that the car's driving range was rated at between 62 miles and 98 miles (100 km - 158 km), depending on driving conditions, suggesting it has not overstate the 85 mile (137 km) range.

However, it remains to be seen whether the Mitsubishi i will be superseded by the variants launched in Japan this week, two models which offer a lower price and longer range, the M and the G respectively.

Either way, by the time the Mitsubishi i gets to the US it will find itself in a very different position to the enviable one enjoyed by Nissan when it launched the Leaf last year, that of being the first "mass-market" electric vehicle.

Instead, the automaker will have to stand out even further in a marketplace now well accustomed to electric vehicles such as the Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, even competing with the might of Ford and the Focus electric, set to be released later this year.