Mitsubishi and Nissan teaming up on electric kei car

·2 min read

Nissan and Mitsubishi have announced plans to build an electric kei car together. The yet-unnamed car would mark a major step towards electrification of Japan's popular supercompact segment.

The car will be powered by a 20 kWh battery and will be engineered to cover daily driving duties in a Japanese driving cycle. The car can also double as a mobile power source or power a home in emergency situations. Nissan says the car will measure 134 inches long, 58 inches wide, and 65 inches tall, in order to comply with laws limiting kei car size.

The companies state that the car will be developed by NMKV Co., Ltd., a joint-venture that stands for Nissan Mitsubishi Kei Vehicle. Each carmaker owns a 50 percent stake, and already jointly builds models such as the feline favorite Nissan Dayz, which Mitsubishi sells as the eK.

In reality, that likely means Mitsubishi will be developing the car and Nissan will simply slap a badge on it. Nissan has not traditionally built kei cars, choosing instead to rebadge those made by Suzuki or Mitsubishi.

In fact, Mitsubishi built the first electric kei car, the i-Miev, way back in 2009, and it was actually sold in the U.S. until 2017. The jellybean-shaped EV was a pioneer in the field, but its 62-mile range from a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery showed the limitations of the technology at the time. Mitsubishi moved about 32,000 of them before they pulled the plug, with a pre-tax-credit price ranging from $23,000 to $31,000.

The new Nissan-Mitsubishi kei car will land at around 2 million yen, or $18,200. The price, while slightly more expensive than a gasoline counterpart, bucks predictions from analysts that said prices would skyrocket by 66 to 120 percent if kei cars were forced to electrify. A petrol-powered Nissan Dayz starts at around $15,200.

Size-wise, the two share a similar footprint as they are governed by kei car size limits. The special class of cars get unique license plates and other registration cost benefits due to their compact dimensions. A BMW i3 would exceed those boundaries due to its 158-inch length and 70-inch width. However, the larger EV comes equipped with a substantially bigger 42.2 kWh battery good for 152 miles of range.

Though no photos have been released, we predict it will look like the iMk concept (pictured above). The car will go on sale in spring 2022.

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