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This tiny $13,000 car is Japan’s best-selling EV

199 days ago

3 minutes

Source: Business Insider

  • The 11-foot-long Nissan Sakura is Japan’s best-selling electric vehicle, according to data from Bloomberg.
  • The $13,000 “kei car” is strong competition for rivals such as Tesla.
  • Mini kei trucks are taking off in the US, with some being sold for as little as $5,000.

Tesla may dominate the global EV market but drivers in Japan have found that a $13,000 tiny car is proving a better investment.

Data collected by Bloomberg shows the Sakura, a $13,000 minicar developed together by Nissan and Mitsubishi, is the best-selling electric car in Japan this year, accounting for approximately half of all EVs sold in the country so far this year. Bloomberg reported that the cost of the vehicle included subsidies from the government.

The Sakura launched last year and has quickly become a phenomenon in its home country, winning car of the year in 2022 in Japan. The 11-foot-long car has a range of 180 kilometers from a single charge and can get up to speeds of 130 kilometers an hour.

The interior of the Nissan Sakura

With 35,099 vehicles sold this year, the Sakura has outperformed its rivals by a long way, including Tesla. The automaker, owned by Elon Musk, may dominate the Western EV market, but in Japan, its larger passenger cars lag behind smaller electric vehicles known as “kei cars.”

This makes it a more challenging market for Tesla, which has slashed prices of its Model 3 and Y electric cars in Japan earlier this year. The Chinese EV giant BYD, backed by Warren Buffett and closing in on Tesla globally, has also started selling its cars in Japan in January.

Kei cars are extremely popular in Japan, especially in rural areas that have little public transport. Their cousins, kei trucks, have also increased in demand in the US in recent years.

Kei trucks including the Daihatsu Hijet have become more and more popular in the US 

11 foot long pick-up trucks, such as the Suzuki Carry and the Daihatsu Hijet, can cost as little as $5,000 and are very economical to run, although vehicles under 25 years old are subject to tight restrictions in the US.

Despite this, they have become popular in parts of rural America, with the diminutive Japanese vehicles being used on ranches, as delivery vehicles, and even as beekeeper wagons.

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