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At $7400, Honda’s Upcoming Electric N-Van Mini Van Can Be A Game-Changer In Japan’s Kei Car Segment

Honda has set the starting price of the electric N-Van in Japan at 1,000,000 yen ($7,400), with the launch planned for the spring of 2024.

Small city cars which are highway-capable, known as Kei cars, are a big deal in Japan. These are internal combustion engine vehicles with engine capacity restricted to 0.66L. Kei cars once had a market share of almost 40% of Japans automobile market around 2014. The market share is now around 30%. 1,652,522 mini vehicles were sold in Japan in 2021. Some of the leading brands on the Kei car sales charts in 2021 were Daihatsu (532,702 units), Suzuki (509,169 units), and Honda (305,390 units). 1.6 million units per year! That is quite a large addressable market. This market is ripe for electrification.

The Japanese EV market has been quite slow compared to other markets such as Europe and China. This is despite Nissan being the early leader in the market when it produced a mass market electric car, the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf was the first electric vehicle to get to 500,000 sales. It took about 10 years to get there, which was pretty good for one of the early movers in this space. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was another popular vehicle over a decade ago. However, several Japanese automakers focused on plug-less hybrids. This slowed down the growth of plug in and battery-electric vehicles in the country. The Kei car market and their use case presents a perfect opportunity for Japan to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

We saw the impact the mini EV market is having in China. Electric Kei cars could have the same effect. One of the leaders in the ICE Kei car market, Honda, has just unveiled a new all electric concept Kei car. Honda says that the minicar segment is very important and supports people’s lives and is indispensable. Honda believes that it is an area that should be prioritized in the spread of EVs. Honda says that, “In particular, there is a high demand for electrification of commercial vehicles from the standpoint of reducing environmental impact, so Honda will first develop light EVs, starting with light commercial EVs.”

Honda’s new light commercial EV is based on the popular N-Van, a light commercial van that has steadily built up a track record since its launch in 2018. Honda says the N-Van features a large-capacity luggage space, an easy-to-use luggage space realized by eliminating the center pillar on the passenger side, and a high degree of arrangement. It has been well received as a vehicle that meets customer needs.

The mini EV will have a cruising range of 200 km, says Honda, which is practical enough to be used not only for commercial use, but also for daily shopping, commuting to work or school, and hobby use. In addition, it will start at price parity with gasoline vehicles, which will be a major boost as this will promote the spread of EVs. Honda has set the starting price of the electric N-Van at 1,000,000 yen ($7,400). The launch is planned for the spring of 2024.

Traditionally, modern EVs have had much higher upfront purchase prices than their ICE equivalents. It’s a really big deal that this proposed Honda Kei car will start at party with its ICE equivalents. Honda is one of the leading brands in this vehicle segment, and therefore the electric Honda N-Van could be a game changer.

Image courtesy of Honda

 
 
 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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