Despite being seemingly great candidates for electrification given their small size and city car positioning, Japan's kei car segment has seen a dearth of EVs over the past few years, with the Mitsubishi i-MIEV of the early 2010s being one of the only electric kei cars to hit the market. But now Nissan is entering the fray with the Sakura, a fully electric hatchback based on the existing Dayz.
The design of the Sakura was previewed in the IMk concept from 2019, and the production model's styling hasn't changed much. Its front end is reminiscent of the Ariya SUV, with a large black-panel "grille," angular LED headlights and an illuminated badge. Blacked-out pillars give the Sakura a floating-roof look, and the awesome four-spoke wheels are designed to look like the mizuhiki knots that are found on gifts and packages. The rear end is cool too, with a full-width light bar that's slatted like a lattice fence. Fifteen colors are available, with four optional two-tone color schemes that are inspired by the seasons and feature bronze accents. The pink is the best, obviously.
The interior is chic as well. The Sakura comes standard with a 7-inch digital gauge cluster and a 9-inch central touchscreen, which has navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay. The horizontal dashboard offers a lot of storage space and a center tray that can fit a phone or wallet, and the Sakura has special cupholders that grip the beverage. The sofalike front seats are upholstered in a luxe fabric that's echoed on the door panels and dash, and the interior is available in beige, black or blue grey.
Powering the Sakura is a single electric motor at the front axle that makes 63 horsepower -- the highest power level allowed by kei car regulations -- and 144 pound-feet of torque. Its lithium-ion battery pack's capacity is just 20 kilowatt-hours, far off from the first-gen Leaf's 80-kWh pack, but the Sakura's 112-mile range is better than the original Leaf's range figures. The Sakura can be used to power tools and even a home, providing a day's worth of electricity in an outage or emergency, and its pack can gain a quick charge to 80% in about 40 minutes. The Sakura is even available with Nissan's ProPilot suite of driver-assist systems, and automated parking tech is included too.
The Sakura will go on sale in Japan this summer, with Nissan remarking that the car will be "a game-changer for the Japanese market," making EVs more accessible to the masses. With a starting price equivalent to around $14,000 once EV subsidies are factored in, the Sakura seems primed to do just that.
Electric Nissan Sakura Kei Car Is Inspired by the Seasons