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July 4, 2022

Nissan Is Studying To Bring Low-Cost EVs To Global Markets

Last May, Nissan and its joint-venture partner, Mitsubishi made headlines when they released two small EVs—the Nissan Sakura and the Mitsubishi eK X EV. While they may be designed primarily for the Japanese market, don’t discount the possibility of seeing them or a version of them being exported outside Japan.

On his visit to Manila, Isao Sekiguchi, President of Nissan Asia Pacific Co. Ltd. said that while previous kei cars have been designed and engineered specifically to meet Japan’s exacting keijidōsha standards, he doesn’t see any reason why small, affordable EVs like the Nissan Sakura can’t do well on the global stage.

As a refresher, kei cars are regulated in certain aspects such as physical size, engine power, and even maximum speed. In turn, these earn them yellow plates which signify tax and insurance benefits in Japan. In rural areas, they’re also exempted from proof of parking.

However, the Nissan Sakura and Mitsubishi eK X EV managed to upend these standards, if by just a bit. Although they’re still quite compact in size and their top speeds are governed, it swaps the miniscule 660-cc motor for an all-electric drivetrain. Since it has to adhere to kei car standards, maximum power is still set at 63 horsepower, however, peak torque is at 195 Nm—more than a Nissan Almera or Mitsubishi Mirage. Couple that with its small size and light curb weight, its modest 20-kWh battery allows for a maximum cruising range of 180 kilometers.

Sekiguchi says the all-electric drivetrain can make exporting the Sakura more viable from a business standpoint. He’s quick to point out that several automotive brands have or are coming up with low-cost electric vehicles, particularly in China and Southeast Asia. Nissan’s all-electric kei car, which is priced starting at 2.33 million yen (P 953,214) without government subsidies, could very well mix it up in that segment.

Right now, it’s still too early to tell whether Nissan will indeed export the Sakura. However, they are carefully studying the business case scenario. What’s more important, Sekiguchi says, is for Nissan to expand their electrified line-up so business units around the world, including the Philippines can “pick and choose” solutions that fit their respective market requirement.

To that end, they’re already working on expanding their EV manufacturing footprint with the possibility of manufacturing them in ASEAN, probably in Thailand, very soon.

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