Nissan and Mitsubishi will sell a micro-car in Japan starting from 2022, in an effort to fill in the low-end gap in the market at a similar price to a combustion engine vehicle.
Priced from less than 2 million yen (around $A24,000 converted), the micro-car is aimed at city drivers and thus will have a driving range of around 200km, which is the major factor in keeping its price low thanks to a smaller (and thus less costly) battery.
Depending on where buyers live, the final price could be as low as 1.5 million yen (about $A18,000) after subsidies are applied, as the Japanese government offers an estimated 200,000 yen (about $A2,400) EV subsidy, and some cities such as Tokyo will offer subsidies up to 450,000 yen ($A,5400 converted) from the beginning of the 2021 financial year.
While Japan is the home of the Nissan Leaf, which has sold more than half a million units worldwide in its 10-year history, EVs have found it hard to gain ground in the island nation.
In Japan, the Nissan Leaf is priced at around 4.4 million yen ($A52,600 converted), and even the Mitsubishi i-Miev – which is technically a city car – is priced from 3 million yen ($A36,000 converted).
But it is Toyota that is dominating the low emissions car market. As Japan Times reports, hybrids are outselling electric cars, and so it would appear that one tactic is simply to introduce a car that can compete on price.
Daihatsu and Suzuki Motors are also both focussing on the hybrid micro-car market, which use a petrol engine combined with a smaller battery.
Even Tesla is finding Japan a hard market to crack. Despite being pegged early on by CEO and co-founder Elon Musk, the EV maker in February dropped the price of its “entry-level” Model 3 by up to 24% depending on the variant in order to compete in the tricky market.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.