Mitsubishi's i MiEV electric car makes it to the States, but not to you

If you've been keeping an eye on the i MiEV, the word from the street (or, in this case, Wired) is that four of the cartoonish vehicles are on their way to SoCal Edison, where their Electric Vehicle Technical Center will put 'em through their paces, testing not only the vehicles themselves but how they interact with the grid. Not that the car will be selling Stateside any time soon -- until it bulks up enough to pass federal side-impact tests and its range is extended beyond the current 70 miles, it looks like the vehicle will be a no-show at the dealerships. Apparently the vehicle sports a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery and optional regenerative braking mode, and the 47 kW (roughly 64 horsepower) motor shouldn't have any trouble keeping up with city traffic. But on the other hand, the car doesn't fly through the air, play VCDs or impress the ladies -- so what's the big deal, then?