Daihatsu says cheap Chinese EVs pose a threat to iconic Japanese Kei cars

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President c Daihatsu motor acknowledged that cheap electric cars from China pose a threat to Japanese carmakers.

For the most part, Japanese automakers are slowly converting kei cars to electricity, providing Chinese companies with access to the market. Talking to Nikkei AsiaDaihatsu boss Soichira Akudaira said the company is committed to doing its best to compete with what the Chinese have created.

«[Chinese] Car design concepts are not just an extension of what was before. For example, the battery and the motor are cooled by air, not water, ”he said. “There may be disadvantages, such as unsuitability for long journeys at high speeds, but costs can be reduced by limiting the intended working conditions. Our company will return to the basics of automotive engineering and think about the new concepts available in EV. We need to be able to compete on price. ”

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One of Daihatsu kei’s first electric cars will be released in 2025 and will cost about 1 million yen ($ 8,600), which is more than some Chinese electric cars. Although it costs more than the Chinese alternative, Akudaira said there is “definitely a demand” for kei cars that have “a relatively spacious cabin, luggage capacity and can accommodate four people.” He added that the automaker is considering electrifying its popular Mira e: S and may release an electric version of the commercial Hijet line, which costs as much as the petrol-powered model.

Daihatsu is working with a number of other car manufacturers to electrify its lineup and will do its best to control battery costs, the boss added.

«Daihatsu is considering several options, including the purchase of Chinese-made batteries, ”Okuira said. “Electrification of all new vehicles by 2030 will require investments of tens of billions of yen and more, so we are working with our parent company Toyota Motor. Together with Suzuki Motor, we are involved in the EV development company, which is jointly owned by Toyota and Isuzu Motors, and together we will develop the appropriate technology.

2021 Wuling Kiwi EV

Daihatsu says cheap Chinese EVs pose a threat to iconic Japanese Kei cars

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