Nissan and Mitsubishi want to make electric vehicles (EVs) more attainable to interested buyers. But instead of just offering the Leaf, Ariya, and the Outlander PHEV as its mass-market EV models, the automakers have decided to launch electric "kei" cars.
These are the 2022 Nissan Sakura and Mitsubishi eK X EV, and they now serve as the smallest (and most affordable) EVs for both brands. First previewed during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show as the IMk Concept, the electric kei cars combine the practicality and small size of a super-mini with the zero-emissions advantage of an EV while still providing adequate interior space.
Featuring a similar design as the original concept, the Sakura has a boxy exterior that's contrasted by a distinct front fascia. Its black closed-off grille, sleek LED headlights and daytime running lights (DRLs), and blacked-out corner vents give the Sakura an unmistakable look.
And depending on the model, the Sakura can also come with a black-painted roof which further adds to the Kei car's funky exterior. For extra pizzaz, Nissan also installed LED taillights with a light bar, a tailgate spoiler, and unique 4-spoke alloy wheels.
As for the eK X EV, it features the Dynamic Shield design Mitsubishi has become famous (or infamous) for. With its sharp LED daytime running lights, large bumper-mounted headlights, and bold front grille, the eK X electric car looks like a pint-sized version of the Xpander MPV. Like the Sakura, the eK X EV will also come with a two-tone finish, particularly a gold-painted roof which helps make the electric kei car stand out more. Other styling features include multi-spoke alloy wheels and vertical LED taillights.
Size-wise, the mini EV stays true to Japan's kei car dimensions. Measuring 3395mm long, 1475mm wide, and 1655mm tall, both the Sakura and eK X EV are indeed small. However, the automakers were still able to give it a generous 2495mm wheelbase which allows both cars to have a seating capacity for 4 people, as well as 107 liters of luggage space. Thanks to their small size, the Sakura and eK x EV also boast an impressive 4.8-meter turning radius.
Both the Sakura and eK X EV come with a state-of-the-art e-Powertrain. It comes with an electric motor that's powered by a 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides a range of up to 180 km (based on WLTC Japan cycle). Total system output is rated at 47 kW which translates to 64 PS plus 195 Nm of torque. It also has a top speed of 130 km/h which is not bad for such a small electric Kei car.
Despite being the smallest EV in Nissan's lineup, the Sakura comes with intelligent features and driver aids found in more expensive models. These include the e-Pedal Step wherein the driver can decelerate smoothly by easing off the accelerator, as well as ProPilot Park driver assistance system (called Mi-Pilot for Mitsubishi). This allows the Sakura to have an automatic parking feature and enhanced driving features in both city driving and highway driving.
With the Sakura and eK X EV having a starting price of JPY 2,333,100 and JPY 2,398,000, (around PHP 957,669 to PHP 984,352), both vehicles are quite affordable. Given their current price point, it would make sense for either brand to offer both kei cars outside of Japan. Unfortunately, it's very rare for Japanese automakers to actually sell their kei cars outside their home market.
But should Nissan or Mitsubishi actually sell these in other markets like the Philippines, would it make sense and actually attract buyers that wish to buy a low-cost EV? Share your thoughts below.