Cheap Chinese electric cars are threatening the "territory" of Japanese cars

 Daihatsu Motor's chairman acknowledged that low-cost electric cars from China are a big threat to Japanese carmakers.

Cheap Chinese electric cars are threatening the territory of Japanese cars - 1

A cheap small electric car model of Wuling company from China (Photo: Wuling).

The slow electrification of kei cars by automakers has left an attractive market open to Chinese companies. Talking to Nikkei Asia, Daihatsu Chairman Soichiro Okudaira said that the company will try to compete with Chinese cars.

"Chinese car design ideas are not simply an extension of what's already there. For example, batteries and electric motors are cooled by wind, instead of water," he said. "There may be many disadvantages, such as not being suitable for long high-speed running, but cheap is the strength. Our company will return to the most basic of car production and focus on cheap electric cars. We have to be competitive on price."

Cheap Chinese electric cars are threatening the territory of Japanese cars - 2

The electric car model Wuling Kiwi 2021 comes from China (Photo: Wuling).

One of Daihatsu's first low-cost, compact electric vehicles will be released in 2025 and will cost around 1 million yen ($8,600), more expensive than some Chinese cars in the same segment. However, Mr. Okudaira said that there is definitely a market demand for "kei car" models with a large width, lots of storage space and can carry 4 people.

He added that Daihatsu will electrify its much-loved Mira e:S and may launch an electric version of its Hijet commercial vehicle at the same price as the petrol version.

Daihatsu is teaming up with several other automakers to electrify its product portfolio, and will do everything it can to control the cost of electric vehicle batteries.

"Daihatsu is considering many possibilities, including buying Chinese-made batteries," Okudaira said. "It will take at least tens of billions of yen to be invested to be able to electrify the entire product portfolio by 2030, so we have to work with our parent company - Toyota Motor. We, together with Suzuki Motor, are doing the work. participate in a joint venture to develop electric vehicles jointly owned by Toyota and Isuzu, and we will develop related technologies together."

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