Due to lengthy delivery times of a year or more, Nissan has temporarily suspended accepting new bookings for its recently revealed light electric vehicles. On Tuesday, the Japanese manufacturer announced the suspension of accepting orders for the Sakura on its website. It is unknown when it would begin accepting sales again. For the same reason, Nissan also halted accepting new orders for the X-Trail crossover sports utility vehicle.
In Nissan's home market, gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles continue to be much more popular than EVs, but the company intends to entice more Japanese drivers to battery-powered cars by providing inexpensive mini variants like the Sakura. Strong orders and the global shortage of semiconductor chips, which had put the manufacturing schedule for the following fiscal year in doubt, have resulted in a delivery delay of a year or more.
The Japanese automaker stated in July that it had received orders for 23,000 units, topping the total number of battery driven EVs sold by all firms in Japan last year. The Sakura is the company's first light EV that was jointly developed with alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors.
What is a kei car?
Kei automobiles, which are nearly exclusively sold in Japan, must be shorter and thinner than 1.5 meters. Typically, they also require an engine with a maximum displacement of 660cc, however Nissan's most recent design defies this requirement. Who needs an SUV or a crossover in a city or a small British village? The tiny Sakura is what you're after. It boasts two enormous screens inside (7.0 inches for the driver display and 9.0 inches for the infotainment), seats four people, has 107 liters of luggage capacity, and costs as little as £11,000 (1.78 million yen) in Japan after subsidies. Oh, and a single charge will take it 112 miles.
Mitsubishi EK X
The 20kWh battery can be fully charged in eight hours if plugged in overnight at home, or it may be fast charged from the warning light to 80% in 40 minutes. To meet kei vehicle regulations, the tiny electric motor must produce 62bhp; yet, that is sufficient for a top speed of 81 mph, and Nissan claims the low center of gravity results in 'nimble handling'. With fifteen various body color options or four two-tone designs, there are also a ton of customization options.
Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, two of the three firms that make up the alliance—along with French Renault—established NMKV in 2011 as a joint venture to jointly develop the small automobiles known as "kei cars" in Japan. Eight kei models altogether have been released by the two brands to yet. The Sakura and the eK X are the first EVs from the joint venture. They are both constructed on the same EV design.
Both vehicles were unveiled in May. Initial sales were fast; by August 7 there had been 25,000 orders for the Sakura and 6,000 for the eK X. Orders have so far substantially surpassed the annual sales projections for both the Sakura and the eK X, which were set at 50,000 and 10,200 units, respectively. Although it is customary for orders placed right away when a new model is announced to exceed expectations, it is exceedingly unusual for the Japanese market to sell more than 2,000 EVs in a single month.
Market prospects for kei cars?
Both producers claim that they do not currently have any plans to export the Sakura and eK X and that they have not been contacted by foreign markets. Mitsubishi does mention that it has started testing its small commercial van, the Minicab MiEV, in Thailand and Indonesia. Mitsubishi also says that it continues to monitor electrification in regional automobile markets worldwide as it considers the needs in each region.
Last year, the Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, and the Volkswagen ID.4 competed for the top spot in the international EV marke. All these models achieved a cruising range of 500 km or more, making it clear that this sort of range is desired in the current EV market.
Additionally, the fact that many Japanese products fall within the kei category can hurt them on the international market. Because they are not constrained by Japan's domestic kei norms, European compact cars that may compete with the Sakura overseas frequently outperform existing kei vehicles in terms of engine and chassis performance.
Observers specifically cite the 1.48 m maximum kei vehicle width as a barrier to widespread adoption. The car's ability to turn and maintain stability at high speeds are both impacted by the narrow tread width, or the space between the tire's outer edges on each side. The Sakura and eK X, which have a tread width that is roughly 15 cm smaller than those of their compact competitors abroad, could be at a disadvantage in this situation.
However, the Sakura and eK X's domestic performance has demonstrated the potential for a significant shift in the Japanese car market, where EVs have failed. In other words, it wasn't true that EVs had no chance in this market; instead, the EVs that the Japanese market required have now arrived and are doing well.