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Nissan, Mitsubishi kick off joint minicar production

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Monday started manufacturing a jointly developed minivehicle to be launched on June 6 across Japan.

The two automakers together command about 10 percent of the minivehicle market. By cooperating, they think they can increase that to around 20 percent, they said.

The new minivehicle — the first model developed by the their joint venture NMKV Co. — will be sold as the DAYZ by Nissan and the eK-Wagon by Mitsubishi. It is being produced at a Mitsubishi Motors plant in Okayama Prefecture.

It is the first time Nissan has been involved in developing a minivehicle.

The model has a fuel efficiency of 29.2 kpl, which is higher than comparable models made by their competitors, and plans are afoot to launch a wagon-type minivehicle as their second model early next year.

Despite the slump in sales of new vehicles in Japan resulting from the end of the governments’ “green car” subsidy program, minivehicles with engines no bigger than 660 cc are seeing steady demand because they have high fuel efficiency and lower associated taxes than compact cars.

Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors agreed on the joint development plan in December 2010 and set up NMKV in 2011 to fend off intensifying competition.

Daihatsu Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp., the front-runners in the minivehicle segment, each hold market shares of around 30 percent, while Honda Motor Co. has around 20 percent.