Suzuki Jimny May Soon Become Electrified

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

suzuki jimny may soon become electrified

If you’re into tackling off-road challenges on a budget or have an unhealthy amount of nostalgia for the Suzuki Samurai that was taken from us in the 1990s, you were probably disheartened to learn that the Jimny (which is what the Samurai is called globally) wouldn’t be coming to North America. Suzuki had already exited our market and the logic at the time was that a super-small ORV probably wouldn’t see a lot of takers in the land where full-sized pickups reign supreme. While Europe was given access to the Jimny, sweeping emission laws have spelled trouble for the K15B engine it uses there. However, Suzuki now seems to have figured out how to get around that problem and indirectly announced on Thursday that the model would eventually become an EV. 

It doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface. The Jimny’s biggest selling points are the fact that it’s small, lightweight, and extremely capable in an off-road environment. The fact that it also utilizes an old-school ladder frame likewise means it’s easier to repair after being pummeled on jagged rocks, tree stumps, and whatever else you’ve attempted to drive over. 

Going electric likely means an end to all of the above with there being a strong likelihood that the model would also become quite a bit more expensive than what’s presently on offer – at least before any government-backed incentives come into play. 

But there may not be any alternative path for Suzuki to walk. The 101-horsepower, 1.5-liter (technically 1,462-cc) naturally-aspirated inline-four motor the Jimny uses across the planet is already confronting regulatory issues in Europe. It’s technically a new motor for the brand. But is based heavily on older designs. Meanwhile, its status as a Kei car in Japan has limited it to the 658-cc R06A I3 Turbo. 

It’s not particularly quick in either format and would struggle to break 90 mph in even its most ambitious setup. But it’s admittedly not designed for highway use and shines the brightest at lower speeds on uneven terrain and exceptionally tight roads or trails. Earlier incarnations of the Jimny (including examples sold in North America) could barely touch 70 mph and the top speed just keeps getting lower the further back in time you go. 

While electrification could certainly make the vehicle more punchy at low speeds, thanks to the instantaneous torque offered by EVs, we’re doubting the Jimny will be transformed into a grand tourer. Unless Suzuki totally re-imagines the SUV, it’ll probably never reward drivers for keeping it on the highway. 

But we don’t really know much about the electrified Jiminy right now. Suzuki hasn’t even officially confirmed its existence. We only know about it because Road & Track shared an image from the manufacturer’s product planning announcement, which seeks to begin electrifying its lineup in 2024. By 2030, Suzuki plans to introduce five new EVs and has identified the chosen models by showcasing their silhouettes during the presentation. One of these was very obviously the fourth-generation Jimny introduced in 2018. 

While we like to follow the Jimny because everyone seems to see it as the weird little SUV that got away, we don’t expect to see it coming to our market anytime soon – electrified or not. Suzuki has explained that it plans to focus sales in Europe, Japan, India, Africa, and Southeast Asia – where itty-bitty cars tend to sell better. However, the EV Jimny seems to be targeting Europe specifically for the reasons stated above. Here’s hoping it’s still a solid off-road option for people with a modest recreational budget.

[Image: Max Anuchkin/Shutterstock]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Join the conversation
4 of 12 comments
  • Ssjoeloc Ssjoeloc on Jan 31, 2023

    They have sold this model in Mexico, in limited numbers so I have question if "North America" is accurate?

    • See 1 previous
    • Statikboy Statikboy on Jan 31, 2023


      We whiteys do have difficulty seeing past our own white picket fences... Social Myopia?

  • ""It's an odd remnant of colonization and white supremacy that many cannot comprehend that Mexico is part of the same continent as Canada.""

    Yeahhh, and yet some 30% cannot fathom it

  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)
  • FreedMike @Tim: "...about 40 percent of us Yanks don't live in a single-family home."Keep in mind that this only describes single family **detached** homes. But plenty of other house types offer a garage you can use to charge up in - attached single family homes (townhouses, primarily), or duplex/triplex/four-plexes. Plus, lots of condos have garages built in. Add those types of housing in and that 40% figure drops by a lot. Regardless, this points out what I've been thinking for a while now - EV ownership is great if you have a garage, and inconvenient (and more expensive) if you don't. The good news if you're looking for more EV sales is that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who have garages. If I had one, I'd be looking very closely at buying electric next time around.
  • Matthew N Fanetti I bought a Silver1985 Corolla GTS Hatchback used in 1989 with 80k miles for $5000. I was kin struggling student and I had no idea how good the car really was. All I knew was on the test drive I got to 80 faster than I expected from a Corolla. Slowly I figured out how special it was. It handled like nothing I had driven before, tearing up backroads at speeds that were downright crazy. On the highway I had it to about 128mph on two occasions, though it took some time to get there, it just kept going until I chickened out. I was an irresponsible kids doing donuts in parking lots and coming of corners sideways. I really drove it hard, but it never needed engine repair even to the day I sold it in 1999 with 225000 miles on it, still running well - but rusty and things were beginning to crap out (Like AC, etc.). I smoked a same year Mustang GT - off the line - by revving up and dumping the clutch. Started to go sideways, but nothing broke or even needed attention. Daily driving, only needed the clutch into first. It was that smooth and well-synced. Super tight, but drivable LSD. Just awesome from daily chores to super-fun.To this day I wish I had kept it, because now I have the money to fix it. It is hard to explain how amazing this car was back in the day - and available to people with limited money - and still the highest quality.
  • Cprescott Well, duh. You will pay more to charge a golf cart than an ICE of the same size if you charge externally. Plus when you factor in the lost time, you will pay through the nose more than an ICE on lost opportunity costs. Golf car ownership savings is pure myth.