Nissan and Mitsubishi to launch all-electric minivehicle in early FY2022 (In Japan)

Nissan has announced today that it plans to start sales of an all-new, all-electric minivehicle. This vehicle will be created as part of a joint project with Mitsubishi Motors.

So what exactly is a minivehicle? Well back in 2019, Nissan unveiled the IMk concept EV and this little 5-door car, supports up to 4 people in theory, but realistically you’re really only fitting two at best. Because of the small size, there’s almost no room between the driver and passenger, so it’s certainly efficient in the way it accommodates passengers.

Being an EV, there is no transmission tunnel and with no storage bins, it would be easy to get out either side of the car. Forget about the crazy carpet on the floor, that’s crazy concept car stuff, but what could be a reality is the all-electric powertrain, minimal interior design.

This car is being designed specifically for the Japanese market right now and is expected in early FY2022.

The planned minivehicle is aimed to redefine the popular car category in Japan, featuring instant acceleration, smooth driving, and cabin quietness that are key characteristics of electric vehicles (EVs). It will also come available with a variety of advanced technologies, including driver assistance technologies. Back in the concept days, Nissan showcased technology known as ProPILOT, but that essentially translates to Level 1 Autonomy of basic ADAS features like Adaptive Cruise Control.

The car is said to have a nominal battery capacity of just 20 kWh which sounds tiny by today’s EV standards, regularly offering between 60-100kWh. With such a small battery, the car would need to be light, aero efficient and really target the demographic who take small trips and charge every night. Even attributes like flush door handles and aero covers on the wheels, it’s likely we’re talking around the 100-150km range at best.

For getting around a city, the EV minivehicle is probably fine but forget about any chance at a road trip. In addition to its mobility uses, the vehicle can provide electricity from its battery to a home, and in emergencies can act as a mobile power source.

The car is 3,395 mm long, 1,475 mm wide, and 1,655 mm high, making the minivehicle a great size to provide easy driving and handling in Japan’s often cramped traffic environments.

The price tag (listed price minus subsidies) is expected to start around 2 million yen, or $24,961.93 Australian Dollars before taxes and on-roads. If this ever came to Australia, you’d need to add another 10% for GST, but still, this would easily become Australia’s cheapest EV on the market. With Australia’s larger average travel distances, I’m not sure this car makes much sense here, but I do expect there to be a minivehicle market emerge over the next decade.

Going forward, Nissan will continue to develop electrified technologies and expand its lineup of electrified models, aiming for every all-new model introduced in key markets to be electrified by the early 2030s.

Below is a couple of concept videos released at the time (back in 2019) and I will warn you that it’s dangerous to expect too much of this to make it to the production vehicle. We regularly see concept vehicles that entice potential buyers, only to disappoint, once the actual car is developed.

Most of the great ideas get toned down to be generic and boring, so let’s hope Nissan and Mitsubishi can pull a rabbit out of a hat here and make this into something meaningful. If they do, there’s a chance (with a bigger battery) they could have a form factor that plays well internationally.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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