Mitsubishi K-EV concept previews new electric kei car

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV will finally get a successor this year, but it will look nothing like the iconic jellybean.

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Japan hasn’t embraced electric vehicles as readily as one might’ve expected, but a pair of upcoming kei cars could change that.

Unveiled at the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon, the Mitsubishi K-EV Concept X Style previews a new electric vehicle developed with Nissan.

While some were hoping for an all-new model with a unique body, the concept indicates the production EV will share most of its exterior with the eK X, a kei tall hatch with crossover styling cues, including black wheel arch cladding and silver bumper inserts.

Design changes from the eK X seem to be limited to a glossy black upper grille and square fog lights. The show car also has matte blue paint, a copper colour roof, and X graphics all over.

Sadly, Mitsubishi hasn’t released any specs about the vehicle, so we’re none the wiser about the car’s battery capacity or driving range.

To conform to kei car regulations — which allow buyers to qualify for the tax breaks and insurance discounts — the new EV will have at most 47kW.

Designed and made by Mitsubishi, the production version of the K-EV will spawn a Nissan version that will likely look a lot like the existing Dayz Highway Star.

When the K-EV, or whatever it’s called, goes on sale this year it will be the successor to the i-MiEV that went out of production in late 2020.

Up to 50,000 were sold across the globe in the 11 years the i-MiEV was on sale.

With a 47kW/180Nm electric motor driving the rear wheels, it took 15.9 seconds for the i-MiEV to hit 100km/h. Equipped with a 16kWh battery pack, the electric jelly bean had a range of around 100km according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The K-EV concept shares the Tokyo Auto Salon stage with the Minicab MiEV B-Leisure Style, based on the electric kei van that’s been on sale in Japan since 2011.

In addition to a moss green and ivory paint job, the B-Leisure Style is fitted with a 1500W power box capable of running laptops, kettles and coffee makers.

The Minicab MiEV is powered by a single electric motor making 30kW and 196Nm. Fitted with a 16kWh battery, the Minicab MiEV has a driving range of 150km according to Japan’s optimistic JC08 standard.

Priced at ¥2.431 million ($29,300), the Minicab MiEV is significantly more expensive than the base petrol-powered Minicab, which begins at ¥990,000 ($11,900).

MORE: Mitsubishi i-MiEV axed — A look back at an electric pioneer

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Derek Fung

Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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