August 4, 2014 2:00 am JST

Nissan, Mitsubishi to join hands on low-cost electric car

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors will work together to develop a minicar-based electric vehicle, aiming to release a new model in fiscal 2016 at the lowest price among major automakers.

     The carmakers have set up a 50-50 joint venture to pursue development.

     Nissan, which released the Leaf electric car in 2010, is the world's largest manufacturer of electric vehicles, with global sales of at least 124,000 units. Mitsubishi has a track record in this area as well, including the minicar-based i-MiEV released in 2009. They plan to co-produce the new car and work together to procure such key components as lithium-ion batteries.

     The i-MiEV is the cheapest electric passenger car on the Japanese market, starting at 2.52 million yen ($24,300). When government subsidies of up to 740,000 yen are included, it can be purchased for as little as 1.78 million yen.

     Minivehicles incorporate the latest cost-reducing technologies such as lighter parts. By basing the new model on minicars, Nissan and Mitsubishi expect to sell it for around 1.5 million yen including subsidies, the lowest price among major automakers and similar to gas-fueled compacts.

     An electric vehicle can run 200km on a single charge that costs just 300 yen. With gasoline prices rising, the cheaper cost of driving an electric car is gaining attention.