Nissan Sakura and Mitsubishi eK X EV, electric kei-cars that we would like to see in France

Nissan Sakura and Mitsubishi eK X EV, electric kei-cars that we would like to see in France


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Nissan and Mitsubishi have unveiled electric micro-city cars that adopt the codes of kei-cars, these famous cubic Japanese cars adapted for traffic in major cities. Vehicles we would like to see driven with us…

Nissan Sakura, electric kei-car. © Nissan

Kei-car: behind this name lies a mini-car, which can only be found in Japan, where it represents 40% of the car market. Its peculiarity lies in the extremely precise dimensions, which allow the display of a yellow license plate, ie a maximum length of 3.40 m, a width not exceeding 1.48 m and a height stopped at 2 m. The displacement is fixed at 660 cm³.

Once recognized as a kei-car, it benefits from tax benefits on tolls and parking. The area allocated to the latter is taxed in Japan according to the size of the vehicle and that place must be less than 800 m from home. For example, Smart (ForFour) is too big to be a kei-car.

One of the specialized manufacturers is none other than Daihatsu, a Toyota brand, but also Nissan, Mitsubishi and Honda. In April 2019, we talked about Nissan Dayz and Dayz Highway Star, Mitsubishi eK and Mitsubishi eK-X, which are all kei-cars developed jointly through the NMKV joint venture.

These manufacturers are back in action with the Nissan Sakura on the one hand and the Mitsubishi eK X EV on the other (pronounced EK cross EV), which, in addition to their character, are kei-car 100% electric. The stated goal is “Make electric cars much more accessible to Japanese customers”according to Asako Hoshino, Nissan’s executive vice president, during their presentation.

Mitsubishi eK X EV, technical cousin of Nissan Sakura.  © Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi eK X EV, technical cousin of Nissan Sakura. © Mitsubishi

Autonomy 180 km and speed 130 km / h

Nissan Sakura and Mitsubishi eK X EV, equipped with a 47 kW (63 hp) electric motor for 195 Nm of torque, reach a maximum speed of 130 km / h. The lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 20 kWh provides a range of 180 km, which is considered sufficient for home use and shopping. According to a Mitsubishi survey, about 80% of kei-car and compact car users drive 50 km or less a day. The drivers of these electric micro-city cars were able to drive for two days without recharging. Charging time ranges from 8h (AC200V / 14.5A) to 40min (80%) for fast power.

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A small oddity, the two kei-cars are V2H compatible, meaning they can supply the house with electricity and vice versa. In Japan, electrified vehicles must actually be able to serve as a generator in the event of an earthquake or other disaster.

© Nissan

These Nissan and Mitsubishi cars, capable of accommodating up to four people, weigh between 1,070 kg and 1,080 kg with a 60/40 split between the front and rear. And just like thermal vehicles, they are richly equipped internally with a 7 or 9-inch touch screen and all driving assistants. Nissan Sakura thus benefits from the ProPilot semi-autonomous steering and e-Pedal function, which allows the accelerator pedal to also play a brake role when released.

© Nissan

The Mitsubishi eK X EV features its own MI-Pilot Driving Assist System, which manages parking, lane keeping and offers Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).

Nissan and Mitsubishi will start selling this summer from 13,500 euros. Today, in France, in addition to the Citroën Ami and also the rare – and very expensive – Smart EQ ForTwo and the Italian Biro (to which we will return), the landscape of the electric micro-city car is rather desert. Two Japanese would be an ideal tool for our micromobility, as more and more municipalities want to kick a car off their streets.

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