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Japanese and Chinese automakers race to produce small electric cars

Japanese and Chinese automakers race to produce small electric cars - Photo 1.

Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors will launch compact electric vehicles priced at under 2 million yen ($15,700) this summer.

According to Japan’s Nikkei news agency, two Japanese automakers, Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, will launch electric “kei cars” for less than 2 million yen ($15,700), after including subsidies. government grant this summer. The sale of electric kei car models by Nissan and Mitsubishi is expected to be the starting shot for the electric car race in Japan.

In fact, small electric vehicles like Nissan’s Sakura and Mitsubishi’s eK X EV have been researched and developed for a decade under the NMKV joint venture established by the automakers in 2011.

Kei car or Kei car got its name from Kei jidosha, which means light vehicle in Japanese. The sedans, trucks, and super mini trucks are all collectively known as Kei cars. In this country compact cars are very popular because they are suitable for the “small shop, small street” conditions in Japan.

These are unique Japanese vehicles. Thanks to the lower tax rate because the car is only equipped with an engine of 660 cc or less, the kei car has become a reasonable choice for many consumers. Especially in rural areas where public transport is limited, households often use them as a second car.

Despite the low carbon footprint of gasoline-powered kei cars, the trend of reducing carbon emissions is continued by kei manufacturers by switching to electric vehicles. As a result, Japanese automakers are developing electric versions of their mini-cars, which currently account for about 40% of all new cars sold in the country.

“We believe the two models that represent our alliance will be a game changer for electric vehicles in Japan,” said Makoto Uchida, President and CEO of Nissan, at the launch ceremony. Sakura last week. “We want to mark a new page in the history of electric vehicles and small cars in the country.”

However, when it comes to selling these kei cars overseas, the two automakers are quite hesitant. “There are many barriers due to different regulations in different countries,” said Mitsubishi Motors CEO Takao Kato. There are also some cases where kei cars are introduced abroad but do not receive tax incentives like in Japan.

Japanese and Chinese automakers race to produce small electric cars - Photo 2.

Ora’s Good Cat electric car, a brand under Great Wall Motors, was on display at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March.

Meanwhile, Chinese automakers have been ahead in developing and selling smaller electric vehicles. SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile has offered the Hongguang Mini EV with an initial price of $4,500, and it has sold 420,000 units domestically by 2021, beating Tesla’s Model Y as the top EV in the country.

Although the price is expected to more than double after the manufacturer adds safety equipment, the company is also starting to assemble the Hongguang Mini EV in Lithuania, starting to gain ground in Europe. Europe. China’s Great Wall Motor Company is also targeting the Ora R1, a small electric vehicle priced at under $7,800, for sale globally.

China is also starting to keep an eye on Thailand as a key electric vehicle market. The Thai government has set a target of 30% of domestically produced vehicles to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030, and introduced many subsidy policies. Therefore, Chinese car manufacturers are racing to enter Thailand to catch up with the policies…

At the Bangkok International Motor Show in March, Chinese companies stand out with displays of low-cost electric vehicles, while Japanese products such as Toyota’s bX4X electric car look more upscale.

The Ora brand has sold more than 1,100 Good Cat electric vehicles in Thailand since it was launched last November and is expected to launch five more electric or hybrid models in the country. this year.

“Japanese manufacturers are not actively developing low-cost electric vehicles globally at this time,” said Taiji Goishihara, director of Deloitte Tohmatsu Group.

The electric vehicle market seems to be splitting into two types of vehicles – high-end cars that can go long distances and cheap cars for short distances. Japanese automakers are looking to see if global customers are willing to pay a fair price for a vehicle of good quality, especially in aspects such as safety equipment. So it looks like electric kei cars won’t be around any time soon.

Japanese and Chinese automakers race to produce small electric cars - Photo 3.

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