New Nissan Sakura: The Right EV for U.S. But We Won’t Get It

Nissan has just introduced its Sakura mini-EV in Japan. Mitsubishi will also market a version of it called eKX EV. Both will launch into the Japanese EV market that is just now seeing rapid demand. Neither the Sakura nor the ekX EV will be coming to the U.S. We have to wonder why?

Does the U.S. really need an EV like the Nissan Sakura?

2023 Nissan Sakura
2023 Nissan Sakura EV kei-car | Nissan

Though EVs command less than two percent of all vehicles sold in Japan, the segment is just now starting to light up. As for the U.S., every indication is that what the market wants is not $115,000 Hummers, but small, affordable EVs. Even GM CEO Mary Barra recently admitted GM must get into this segment soon.

Nissan and/or Mitsubishi should take a cue from Barra. Both companies have some familiarity with EVs, with Nissan’s Leaf and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV. While the Leaf has proven to be a popular EV in the US, the i-MiEV found little success. This was partially due to its lack of range, and partly because some (though not us) found the round, organic styling offputting. 

The Sakura could fill out Nissan’s EV lineup

2023 Nissan Sakura
2023 Nissan Sakura EV kei-car | Nissan

Of course, now Nissan has another EV, the Ariya crossover. With the Sakura in the U.S., it could have a nice range of EVs to cover subsegments within the EV space. Nissan expects the Sakura to be a high-volume model. It has stated its goal is for 40-percent of its offering to be EVs by 2026. 

The Sakura is a five-door, four-seat small sedan that seats four. It is powered by a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery and 47 kW motor. Its range tops out at 111 miles, which is not tremendous. But with its small size, this would definitely be a local, short-trip vehicle anyway. It falls into Japan’s Kei-car segment, which limits size and powertrains.

This is why Nissan won’t bring the Sakura here

2023 Nissan Sakura
2023 Nissan Sakura Kei-car interior | Nissan

That is probably the main reason Nissan won’t be bringing it here. With a top speed of 80 mph, it would not be classified any differently than any other vehicle in the U.S. An interesting aspect about the Sakura is that Nissan says you could use it as a power source to power a home for 24 hours. 

Besides that feature, it also has both ProPilot driver-assistance systems and an automated parking function. And it does away with the typical two-pedal arrangement with just a single pedal. A 9.0-inch infotainment screen and 7.0 digital gauge layout greet the driver and front-seat passenger. 

Is the Mitsubishi eKX EV the same?

2022 Mitsubishi eK X
2022 Mitsubishi eK X EV | Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi’s eKX EV is the same layout-wise and mechanically, but features crisper, unique sheet metal throughout. Unique body tooling is in itself an indication of high sales expectations by Mitsubishi. With government subsidies, both will sell for under $14,000 according to Automotive News

So how about it Nissan or Mitsubishi. Both are experiencing profits for the first time in years. Wouldn’t these two mini-sedan EVs help fill out your offerings here? Neither will be everyone’s cup of tea, but more affordable vehicles like Ford’s Maverick and Nissan’s Leaf show there is a giant market for cheaper products. 

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