Japan’s Two Forbidden Haulers: Nissan Sakura-Mitsubishi Delica Mini

There are lots of Japan-only or JDM vehicles produced that we have to wait 25 years before importing. For whatever reason, they don’t meet U.S. safety or equipment standards. Once they reach 25 years old, they can then be imported legally here. Here are two just-introduced JDM SUVs that we would love to see make it to our shores, though that won’t happen. They are the Mitsubishi Delica Mini and Nissan Sakura.

What is the Mitsubishi Delica Mini?

2023 delica mini
2023 Mitsubishi Delica Mini | Mitsubishi

These are two of Japan’s kei cars, which means they have size and engine limits to qualify for special price reductions. Because they’re small and under 660 cc, they work mostly as inner city or local transportation commuters. The kei car segment is the largest JDM group. Let’s take a look at both of them, starting with the Delica Mini.

If Delica sounds familiar, it is the name Mitsubishi gave its D:5 minivans, which have a large following in the U.S. But the Mini is a new offshoot of the Delica brand for the Japanese market. Part of this tiny SUV popularity is because they’re boxy yet stylish. There is something compelling about them, especially the Mini. 

Is the Mitsubishi Delica Mini an EV or hybrid?

2023 Mitsubishi Delica
2023 Mitsubishi Delica Mini | Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi has given it a somewhat rugged look with its use of plastic cladding breakups and a black two-tone top. It is also interesting that the square wheel arches give way to round wheel openings. The Mini also features faux aluminum skid plates front and rear. 

We’d like to show and tell you more about it, but these are teaser images that Mitsubishi just released. There are no specifications or images of the interior we can share. We do know it will have a hybrid powertrain, and an all-wheel drive system. The Delica Mini goes on sale in mid-2023. 

What is the 2023 Nissan Sakura?

The Nissan Sakura EV was introduced earlier this year. What brings it to our attention is that Nissan has stopped taking orders for it. Within two months of its launch in May, orders had already surpassed all EV sales in total in Japan last year. With 35,000 orders by September, Nissan had to do something.

Nissan Sakura
2023 Nissan Sakura kei car | Nissan

The Sakura, as well as the almost identical Mitsubishi eK X EV, have a limited production capacity. With the overwhelming response, the automaker decided to stop taking orders. As it stands, many buyers won’t see their Sakura EV for a year or more. Nissan hasn’t announced when it will resume taking new orders. 

Nissan Sakura
2023 Nissan Sakura kei car | Nissan

Sakura EVs have a base price of 2,399,100 yen, or $16,250. With Japan’s consumption tax removed for kei cars, as well as the national and local kei car subsidies, buyers may only have to shell out $12,000 or less. Up to now, Japan has stood staunchly behind hybrids, having only recently begun offering EVs. So this is a wake-up call for the industry. We know that both Suzuki and Daihatsu are ready to launch their own Sakura-like EVs soon.

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