News & Events

Light EV sees hot demand in Japan but strained by chip crunch

Nissan and Mitsubishi respectively have reported high orders for their new electric "kei" car since late May, according to media reports.

The two Japanese carmakers co-developed a new electric light automobile (below 660cc, known as kei car in Japan) and started selling the new model separately since late May, according to Reuters and ToyoKeizai.

Nissan said the new model, Sakura, has received 11,400 orders since late May, exceeding not only the carmaker's sales target for the car for the month but also the opening sales of Nissan's other battery EV models, Leaf and Ariya, according to the reports.

Mitsubishi said its new model, which is named eK X EV, has received 3,400 orders, about three times higher than its monthly sales target.

Light automobiles more popular

Sakura and eK X EV are co-developed by the two carmakers and share the same component suppliers. Scale production allows them to lower the price of the vehicle while maintaining quality.

The vehicle costs about JPY2.3 million (US$17,000) before subsidies. With incentives from the central government and the Tokyo municipality, car buyers in Tokyo can purchase the car for JPY1.4 million.

Kei cars account for at least 40% of all cars in Japan, so electric kei cars are expected to gain wider popularity than regular EVs.

Toyota and Subaru also developed electric models through a shared EV platform. Toyota looks to ship 3,000 units of its new BEV bZ4X within this year, while Subaru said it has received 500 orders for Solterra.

The battery in the electric kei cars has only 20kWh in power capacity, which is not even one-third of that of Ariya or bZ4X.

On top of that, shortages of semiconductors could delay the production and delivery of these kei cars. Nissan has postponed the launch date of Sakura due to underproduction. Mitsubishi is highly likely to face the same challenge, the reports said.