Nissan and Mitsubishi — rival Japanese automakers whose plug-in electric cars cross-shop one another in several major markets around the world — have reiterated their plans to work together to develop an all-new electric car.
As reported by the Nikkei Asian Review on Sunday, the two firms have officially announced a 50-50 joint venture to bring the new, low-cost electric car to market. In addition to joint-ownership of the project, both companies will work together to source, design and build key components like the lithium-ion battery pack, power electronics and motor.
While not officially stated, the low-cost car — which has yet to be named — will likely be designed for the Japanese domestic market, specifically the attractive kei jidōsa car segment. A special regulatory class of vehicles under specific physical dimensions and engine size, kei jidōsa compliant cars do not require parking permits to park on the road and are far cheaper to insure and tax than larger vehicles.
Unique to Japan, the kei jidōsa market is substantial, and potentially very lucrative for Nissan and Mitsubishi to introduce an all-new electric vehicle into. While Mitsubishi’s domestic version of the i-Miev electric car meets kei class regulations, a smaller, cheaper electric vehicle is desperately needed to cross-shop against small internal-combustion engined kei jidōsa vehicles.
Currently, the i-MIev sells in Japan for around ¥1.78 million after subsidies but Nissan and Mitsubishi say they are aiming for a price of around ¥1.5 million for the new mini car after incentives. At current exchange rates, that translates to around $14,598.
Even if you’re not in Japan however, the joint venture between Nissan and Mitsubishi is bound to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the electric car industry, further reducing component costs and making electric cars cheaper for all.
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