May 20, 2013
All in a DAYZ
May 20 – Okayama, Japan – It’s not everyday Japanese automakers team up to make cars, but Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors have done just that, taking on the domestic industry’s top category by volume: kei cars.
The new minicar rolled off the line at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima Plant on Monday, restoring a night shift and supporting hundreds of jobs.
The new generation of kei cars will be launched next month, badged for each company, under the model names of Nissan DAYZ and DAYZ Highway STAR, as well as the Mitsubishi eK Wagon and eK Custom.
These are the first kei car models under the NMKV joint venture started in December 2010 by Nissan and Mitsubishi. Media joined executives and 350 staff for the ceremony.
Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said the new DAYZ was big for Nissan.
“It’s a very unique product for the Japanese market,” said Shiga. “The dimensions, the length, the width are completely regulated, however, the roominess is good. I am really expecting that we will continuously sell our registered car products, while we are increasing our sales for the kei car thanks to this project.”
Japan’s kei car category offers affordability and tax breaks with each small model, and the minicar continues to be a growing category.
Some 18.5 million were on Japanese roads at the beginning of 2012.
Honda, Suzuki and Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu offer strong competition, but the new models stand out with best-in-class fuel economy, first in kei car touch-screen automatic air-conditioning, and high-quality interiors.
Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko said partnership with Nissan was a unique and important advantage for the carmaker.
“We are two companies. We have different histories. And we expect that our cultures of making cars are different,” said Masuko. “But we are working together from planning and development of this project, and I suspect that there were a lot of walls and obstructions. But I think that we have overcome these issues rather well and built a relationship based on trust. I think this is the result of the efforts of the people both companies are providing to NMKV.”
The next “super height” mini-wagon will reach the market in early 2014, with the “minis” expected to have an outsized impact on Japan sales.