Nissan and Mitsubishi Renew Joint Venture – 500,000 Kei Cars Sold in Japan

By Steve & Tamami Laser

First-time visitors to Japan are often amazed at the wide variety of vehicles on the streets. The smallest ones, distinguished by their yellow license plates, are called “Kei cars” or mini vehicles.

B21W-140703-02-sourceKei cars offer several advantages. Their diminutive size makes them easy to park. Many have sliding side doors for ease of entry and exit. They save owners money in several ways including their lower retail prices and reduced operating expenses versus larger cars.

Disadvantages include government-mandated restrictions on engine displacement to a maximum 660cc (0.66L), with exterior dimensions limited to 11.2 feet (3.4m) long and 4.8 feet (1.48m) wide. Height is a more generous 6.6 feet (2.0m) making taller Kei cars more popular.

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, and their joint venture NMKV Co., Ltd. have announced an agreement to continue their joint venture Kei car project by developing the next generation of minicar models.

Image converted using ifftoanyNissan and Mitsubishi established NMKV in June 2011 to specialize in planning and development of minicars. Their jointly-developed Nissan Dayz (above) and Mitsubishi eK Wagon were launched in June 2013, followed by the Nissan Dayz Roox (below) and the Mitsubishi eK Space in February 2014.

By the end of September 2015, total sales of vehicles produced under the joint project reached 500,000 units, a testament to the success of the collaboration. This new agreement takes the partnership to a higher level.

140213-01-07-sourceNissan says it will be more deeply involved in development operations, such as design development and testing.

131003-01-08-sourceIn addition to its product planning and project development roles, NMKV will strengthen its management capabilities by adding a new department to enhance collaboration with engineering and manufacturing functions, says Nissan. Vehicle production is planned to continue at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima Plant.

Color VariationIn addition, Nissan says the planning and development of a minicar EV is in progress through the collaboration. The announcement of vehicle details and launch timing of the EV and other next-generation minicars will be made at a later time.

151005-01-06Reading between the lines, we’re wondering if Nissan’s new Teatro for Dayz (above), a futuristic EV concept set to premiere at the Tokyo Motor Show might provide more clues about the upcoming joint venture’s EV?

News source and photos courtesy of Nissan Motor Company

Story (commentary) © 2015