Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Nissan Motor Co. continue to expand on their powerful collaboration with a new joint venture, NMKV, producing the next-generation of Kei cars. Production is currently underway at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima Plant in Kurashiki, Japan, and includes the all-new Mitsubishi eK wagon, Mitsubishi eK X, Nissan Dayz, and Nissan Dayz Highway Star.
What Exactly Are Kei Cars?
For those who don’t know, Kei cars are part of a specific vehicle category in Japan for the smallest highway-legal passenger cars. The Kei car category was first created by the Japanese government in 1949 but regulations have since been revised several times. These regulations specify a maximum vehicle size, engine size and power output which all contribute to Kei cars enjoying tax and insurance benefits. Kei cars are also exempt from the requirement to certify that adequate parking is available due to their minimal size.
Fact is, Kei cars have become a very successful endeavour in Japan. In 2016, this segment consisted of just over one-third of domestic new car sales even though they experienced a record drop of 40% market share in 2013.
While it’s a resounding success in Japan, Kei cars have not performed well in the export market. Kei cars are generally too specialised and most models are too small to truly be profitable. There are a few exceptions though such as the Suzuki Alto and Jimny models which the group exported consistently. Japan is responsible for designing and manufacturing most Kei cars but a few overseas models have imported into Japan to be sold as Kei cars.
Mitsubishi And Nissan Joint Venture
Mitsubishi and Nissan are producing four new mini-vehicles in Japan which will be fitted with semi-autonomous driving technology designed specifically for single-lane use on highways. This is the first time that such features will be included in this category and it could certainly add another dimension.
The joint venture, NMKV, integrates Nissan’s advanced technologies and Mitsubishi’s extensive experience in mini-vehicle production. They plan to combine their expertise and bring the best of both worlds into the light, tall wagon-type cars. Looking back, Mitsubishi and Nissan launched the first generation of Kei cars in 2013 and their collaboration has increased in spades since becoming Alliance partners in 2016.
In February this year, the group launched the all-new Nissan Livina which shares a platform with the popular Mitsubishi Xpander. The new Kei models deliver a noticeable improvement in performance with upgraded platforms, engines and transmission systems. In addition to new tech and powertrains, they also feature an all-new design. Even though Nissan and Mitsubishi are collaborating on this project and share some key components, their respective models still retain separate brand features.
While there is currently limited information available regarding pricing, launch date and whether we’ll get these next-generation Kei cars in South Africa, keep an eye on our blog for any updates. You can also follow us on Facebook and be the first to find out all the motoring news from around the world.