TTAC Busts Embargo Of Two Unobtainable Cars On The Same Day

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
ttac busts embargo of two unobtainable cars on the same day

Nissan Dayz or Mitsubishi eK Wagon?

TTAC finally found the holy grail of the auto-blogosphere: We busted a stringent embargo that won’t lift for more than two weeks. We did that on cars that are unobtainable for most. We blew the tarps not off one, but two makes. We didn’t find a dealer brochure, we caught the cars while they were made.

This is where they keep all the tooling

It was easier than it sounds. Last Friday, I was invited to a super-secret briefing about an upcoming car at Nissan. I had to swear on a stack of bibles and the scriptures of various far-eastern religions that I wouldn’t write anything before June 6. Actually, I didn’t go.

Nissan Dayz or Mitsubishi eK Wagon? No idea

That way, I didn’t perjure myself, and instead I got up at 5:30 today in the morning to go to Mizushima, near Hiroshima. Mizushima is home to one of Mitsubishi’s two Japanese car plants, and as of today, it is home to two new cars you can’t buy. Unless you come to Japan. With TTAC in attendance, Mitsubishi cranked up the line today for the cars that will go on sale when the embargo lifts, on June 6.

Definitely a Nissan

Three years ago, Nissan and Mitsubishi started a cooperation. One of the projects was a joint kei car, one of those Japanese oddities with a pint-sized engine. Instead of rebadging minimobiles made by Suzuki and Mitsubishi, as it had done in the past, Nissan co-developed a new kei car with Mitsubishi. The car is made in the Mizushima plant and sold as the Nissan DAYZ and the Mitsubishi eK Wagon. The cars have small body changes on the outside – like a slightly different grille. On the inside, they are mostly identical. But then, all kei cars are quite similar on the inside, the tight specs (not more than 11.2 ft long, no more than 4.9 ft wide, engine displacement not over 660 cc, power not more than 63 hp) don’t leave much room for self-actualization.

High grade: Dayz Highway Star

Why joint development? “Having a car built somewhere else caps profits in the long run,” a Mitsubishi official tells me today. “Own development can be quite profitable if sales take off in a big way, and it can be much too expensive when sales don’t take off.”

Make my Dayz

Sharing development costs while realizing scale effects when the car is successful is seen as a good strategy. The kei segment is big in Japan and growing. Nearly 40 percent of all cars sold in the island nation are keis. However, that’s mostly it. Keis are a Japanese phenomenon, and nearly non-existent outside of Japan. This stunts their global growth potential.

Best-Selling Kei Cars Japan April 2013RankMakeModelAprilYoYYearYoY1DaihatsuMove18,60154%79,39436%2HondaNbox16,382-3%85,98340%3SuzukiWagon R13,78713%73,7597%4DaihatsuMira11,848-24%55,582-36%5SuzukiAlto10,8707%41,702-5%6HondaN19,618N/A46,926N/A7DaihatsuTanto9,532-29%49,892-19%8SuzukiSpacia8,112N/A15,357N/A9NissanMoco4,232-32%27,531-3%10ToyotaPixis2,659238%10,22818%11SubaruStella1,76176%9,32013%12SuzukiMR Wagon1,537-62%13,058-7%13SuzukiEvery Wagon1,496-22%8,0271%14NissanRook1,282-72%15,333-27%15MitsubishieK1,257-33%9,673-20%

Neither Nissan nor Mitsubishi want to give production targets, at least not before the official launch on June 6. The back of an envelope quickly reveals how many they want .to build. They are targeting 20 percent market share, together. That would be 20 percent of 2 million, or some 30,000 a month. Currently, some 230,000 keis are sold annually among Nissan and Mitsubishi, That would be around 20,000 a month. Somewhere in that neighborhood.

We’ll try to snag one for a from-the-backseat car review when one is available,.

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2 of 5 comments
  • Kuman Kuman on May 21, 2013

    why oh why cant we get these cars outside japan... i hate to have Suzuki Wagon R ( 2nd generation, 1000cc ) and KIA picanto /Hyundai i10 ( both 1200 cc ) as the only choice for economical small cars here in indonesia...

  • BrentNelson BrentNelson on May 21, 2013

    concentrate on actual point which present by this article i appreciate this post for this great report which u mention.

  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.