Nissan, Mitsubishi mini EVs named Japan Car of the Year

Nissan Motor Co.’s Sakura, left, Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s eK X EV

Electric minivehicles jointly developed by Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. were named 2022-23 Japan Car of the Year on Thursday. The cars became the first minivehicles to claim the top prize since the award was created in 1980.

This year, the award was given to two electric minivehicles: Nissan Motor’s Sakura and Mitsubishi Motors’ eK X EV. The award was given to an EV for the first time in 11 years, since Nissan’s Leaf won it in 2011.

It was the second consecutive win for Nissan, as the Note claimed the prize last year, and it was Mitsubishi’s first win in 26 years, since the award went to the Galant/Legnum in 1996.

The two automakers jointly developed and produced the vehicles and released them in June. Focusing on daily use, such as commuting and shopping, the two companies limited the driving range to 180 kilometers to reduce the capacity of the battery — the main cause of high prices. As a result, the automakers achieved a target price of below ¥2 million per unit, using government subsidies.

A group of 60 people, including car journalists, voted to select the winners. The vehicles were said to have “made EVs more accessible” and “struck a balance between performance, equipment and price.”

“The vehicles incorporated the specifications of light cars, which are unique to Japan, and increased the possibility of EVs being more widely used in the country,” said Kenichi Shimizu, chairman of the Car of the Year Japan organizing committee.

As of the end of November, 18,319 units of the Sakura and 3,423 units of the eK X EV had been sold.