Different cultures embrace different kinds of vehicles. Americans, with their wide open spaces, prefer gargantuan vehicles with room for 7 and the ability to tow a camper with two kayaks, a paddleboard, 6 bicycles and a dirt bike up to the lake. Italians use the Piaggio Ape trike like it is an F-250 Super Duty. In China, the Wuling HongGuang Mini is selling like hotcakes. The point is, not every vehicle is suitable for drivers in every country.
Japan has always embraced tiny kei cars for use in its crowded cities. In fact, they account for about a third of all new car sales in Japan. By law, they can be no more than 3.4 meters long, 1.48 meters wide, and are limited to a 660 cc engine. If you think that is small, wait till you hear this. Idemitsu Kosan, a petroleum refiner in Japan, plans to launch an electric vehicle next year at its 6,400 petrol stations via a joint venture with private automaker Tajima Motor Corporation, according to a report by Reuters.
At 2.5 meters long and 1.3 meters wide, it will be about two-thirds the size of the already diminutive kei cars. The 4-seater will have a range of 120 kilometers and a maximum speed of 60 km/h. It is expected to start at $9,491 with a top price of $14,237. Obviously such a small, low performance car will have limited uses. The companies expect it will appeal to individuals and businesses who use cars for shopping and deliveries over short distances. The companies expect to unveil the car later this year and begin sales in 2022. The move comes as the company seeks new sources of revenue. Demand for gasoline is falling as Japan’s ageing population drives less and consumes less fuel.
“We believe there is about 1 million potential demand for ultracompact EVs as it is safer than bicycle or small motor bike and easier to drive than conventional minivehicle,” Idemitsu President Shunichi Kito told the press at a news conference this week. “We plan to offer various services including sharing and subscription of the EV at our 6,400 petrol stations,” he said.
Will the car be exported to the US? No. Will it be exported to any other countries? Highly doubtful. But it moves the EV revolution forward and for that we should be grateful.
Featured image courtesy of Tajima EV.
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