Electric cars could destroy Japan’s cheap kei cars

Electric cars could destroy Japan’s cheap kei cars

February 2, 2021 0 By autotimesnews

In the transition to all-electric cars, Japanese micro-cars faced the biggest challenge in their history.

The smallest car currently sold in America is the 2021 Chevrolet Spark, which measures 3.63 meters in length. Some of the smallest cars sold in Japan are only about 3.4 meters long. “Kei cars”, which translates as “cars”, has existed since 1949 and since then have been extremely popular in the island nation. They are cheap to buy and maintain, have a lower tax, and are rarely exported. In 2017, for example, 7 of the top 10 best-selling cars in Japan were kei cars (Honda N-Box and Nissan Dayz).

But times are rapidly changing, and now the kei car is facing the biggest threat in history: electric vehicles. Following Japanese Prime Minister Suga’s plan to decarbonize the country by 2050, which will pave the way for pure battery electric vehicles, the ultra-fuel-efficient gasoline-powered Kei car will no longer be needed, according to Bloomberg. But buyers will likely have a downside: kei cars can be easily electrified, but that adds $ 9,600 to $ 19,200 to the price, which would essentially double it.

“Affordability and convenience are the lifeblood of compact cars. These vehicles are essential for mobility, they act as infrastructure and replace public transport. Kei cars are found not only in cities with narrow streets, but also in rural areas where there is less public transport, ”said Hitoshi Horii, head of the Japan Mini Vehicle Association.

Even Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s CEO and grandson of the company’s founder, spoke sharply in December about the government’s promotion of electric vehicles and the subsequent demise of key cars. “Kei is Japan’s national car,” he told his audience at the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. “People can live in cities without key cars, but if you find yourself in the countryside, these cars will become a necessity.” Plus, kei cars are popular with older people and women, most of whom are on a budget.

However, sooner or later, there will no longer be a Kei car in the lines of Japanese automakers, including Toyota. One possible alternative is to import cheap Chinese-made electric vehicles into Japan. However, the looming “death sentence” of the kei-punishment is what government officials see as a small price to pay for a zero-emission future.