The Nissan Sakura is the perfect electric Kei car for your trips around town

Other than the national flower of Japan, what does the name Sakura make you think of? The Nissan Gazelle of the late 70s and early 80s was introduced to the Mexican market as the Datsun Sakura. Yes, that’s the one, but the Sakura we’re talking about now has nothing to do with the 2-door hardtop coupe produced from 1979 to 1983.

Unveiled in May 2022, Nissan Sakura is a battery-electric Kei car developed by NMKV. NMKV is short for Nissan Mitsubishi Kei Vehicles, a partnership of the two Japanese automakers to build Kei cars under their brands.

As you know, Kei cars are small, lightweight, highway-legal passenger cars domiciled in Japan. They go by different names outside of Japan, such as ultra-mini, city car, and microcar. They usually have restricted dimensions to be certified Kei cars or Kei trucks or Kei vans. As they are popular with old and young people and businesses that need to move goods and personnel around the city, Kei cars account for a significant share of the Japanese car market.

The new Nissan Sakura is perhaps a more ideal Kei for the North American market. Developed alongside the gasoline-powered Mitsubishi eK X EV, Sakura is battery-powered, compact, affordable, cute and smart. Let’s look at this.

Related: The 2022 Nissan Leaf is now America’s cheapest electric vehicle

Why we need the Nissan Sakura here

It might just be the perfect city car or second car as more and more humans in the United States care more about climate change.

According to a Pew Research Center report, “public concern about climate change has increased in recent years…and there is no evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has dampened levels of concern.” A similar study also found that “60% of Americans view climate change as a major threat to the well-being of the United States,” a record for Americans of this view in any Pew Research Center survey dating back to 2009.


This ratio is predictive of the public’s acceptance of a compact electric vehicle that they can buy without breaking the bank. How many Americans wouldn’t be thrilled by the prospect of an all-new electric vehicle offering a hundred-mile range on a single charge for less than $14,000? Doesn’t it break your heart that the good people of Japan get this, and we don’t?

Its 20kWh battery can provide 112 miles of range before you need to recharge. You will have plenty left when you return home each day; plug in and you’re good to go the next day. Don’t worry about gasoline or the charging station. The lithium-ion battery has proven itself in the Nissan LEAF with a track record of reliability and great performance.


What else do you know about state-of-the-art battery technology? It can be used as an emergency mobile power source for your home all day. The Nissan Sakura is a 4-door body type, so it looks more mature than most others in its class. The battery is paired with a single electric motor that can produce 63 horsepower and 144 lb-ft of torque. Its light weight of 2,359 allows it to reach 80 mph. To be honest, we’re not so keen on going so fast on American highways in such a small car.

However, Sakura is perfect for commuting around town. What happens when you set aside America’s obsession fueled by security for the big and the big? Smart, fuel-efficient small cars like the Nissan Sakura would make 110% sense to the average American. It’s a necessary step to take before the American public can embrace small Kei-sized cars.


Despite the small profile consisting of 58.1″ in width, 133.7″ in length and 65.2″ in height, Sakura’s impressive and smart features and state-of-the-art powertrain will compel people from the United States United to give this car a bear hug (pun intended).

About those smart features we mentioned. It includes advanced ProPILOT Park parking assistance technology and three drive modes – Eco, Standard and Sport. Modes optimize vehicle performance under various driving conditions. The included ePedal Step allows for smooth deceleration by gently releasing the throttle, which also charges the battery via regenerative braking.

We dare say that this is a transmission designed for city driving due to the frequent acceleration and deceleration involved, not only for city driving, but also for difficult terrain like snowy roads requiring braking and frequent accelerations. The car also has a low center of gravity, improving its stability when cornering or braving adverse driving conditions. It has a turning radius of 15.7 feet.

Sakura inspires the question, why can’t we have Kei cars here? We cannot sustain the planet with $40,000 electric vehicles; we need a Sakura we can afford. It’s good for our bank balance and insurance rates, and it’s fun and rewarding.

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How much does the Nissan Sakura cost?

Japanese buyers will pay just under $14,000 and drive home an all-new Nissan Sakura from September 2022. Although Kei cars cannot be imported into the United States, it is legal to own and to drive one as long as it is 25 years old and registered in the United States. How does this help us with the Nissan Sakura? We can’t think of any.

According to Nissan Executive Vice President Asako Hoshino, “The all-new Sakura follows the LEAF and Ariya as a mainstream electric vehicle. We believe this will be a game-changer for the Japanese market and will make electric vehicles much more accessible to customers in Japan.”

The compact battery enhances the car’s already relatively spacious cabin. Let’s not forget that the interior is not a tennis court. It has a 9-inch infotainment screen and a 7-inch dashboard in addition to other gadgets.

If you’re still not convinced, consider that the Mini Cooper SE Electric is currently the only EV here offering a similar range to the Sakura but costs more than double the price of Sakura.

In fact, you can’t buy a new EV at Sakura’s price at all. Heck, you won’t even get one under $20,000. It’s almost as if none of the brands sold in America care about making a decent electric vehicle for the average driver, which countries like China and Japan don’t take for granted. Why leave the masses with VW eGolf and the BMW i3 they can’t afford?

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