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That minicar project that erstwhile competitors Nissan and Mitsubishi launched about four years ago is about to go a little more maxi. NMKV Co., the joint venture established in June 2011 by the two Japanese automakers to make minicars, is going to get more resources specifically to ease a move into the electric-vehicle sector. Specifically, Nissan, which makes the all-electric Leaf, is going to have a bigger role in the testing, design, and development of the partnership's mini EVs. A memorandum of understand between Nissan and Mitsubishi, maker of the i-MiEV, is in the works.

So far, the joint-venture has sold about 500,000 gas-powered three-cylinder compact vehicles under the two automotive brands, so it must be doing something right. The first Nissan Dayz and the Mitsubishi eK Wagon models started production in 2013. Sales of the Nissan Dayz Roox and Mitsubishi eK Space, which went the higher-roof route, began early last year. Nissan and Mitsubishi started making noise about this last summer, when word came out that the little EV may be priced at less than $15,000 in Japan, quite a bit cheaper than either the Leaf or the i-MiEV over there.

As with the current models, the future minicar variants will be produced at Mitsubishi's Mizushima factory in Japan. So far, the partnership would only say that details about NMKV's next-generation mini EV will be released "at a later time," so specifics like range and other performance measures will have to wait. Until then, you can take a look at NMKV's press release below.
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Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and NMKV reach agreement on planning and development of next-generation minicars

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, and their joint venture NMKV Co., Ltd. today reached an agreement to continue their joint project regarding development of the next generation of current minicar models. The three companies will soon sign a memorandum of understanding.

The companies aim to develop more competitive products by optimizing resource allocation and their respective roles and responsibilities. Nissan will be more deeply involved in development operations, such as design development and testing. In addition to its product planning and project development roles, NMKV will strengthen its management capabilities by adding a new department to enhance collaboration with engineering and manufacturing functions. Vehicle production is planned to continue at Mitsubishi's Mizushima Plant.

Nissan and Mitsubishi established NMKV in June 2011 to specialize in planning and development of minicars. Their jointly-developed minicars, the Nissan Dayz and the Mitsubishi eK Wagon, were launched in June 2013, followed by the launch of the Nissan Dayz Roox and the Mitsubishi eK Space in February 2014. By the end of September 2015, total sales of vehicles produced under the joint project reached 500,000 units, a testament to the success of the collaboration. This new agreement takes the partnership to a higher level.

In addition, planning and development of a minicar EV is in progress through the collaboration. The announcement of vehicle details and launch timing of the EV and other next-generation minicars will be made at a later time.

"Nissan's deeper involvement in development operations for next generation minicars will enable the easier application of advanced safety and eco-friendly technologies in larger vehicles," said Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan CCO. "This new opportunity will enable us to deliver even more competitive vehicles to consumers by enhancing our product and lineup, by strengthening our partnership and combining the expertise of both companies."

"For Mitsubishi, minicars are a key segment that accounts for more than half of our total sales in Japan. By combining each other's strengths through NMKV, we will continue to introduce attractive products to the market. Producing the new models at our Mizushima Plant, after the current model production ends, will help us further accelerate the improvement activities on which the three companies have been working together in the areas of production costs, efficiency and quality, and this will lead us to introduce more competitive products," said Mitsubishi President and COO Tetsuro Aikawa.

NMKV President and CEO Junichi Endo said, "This new agreement shows that our efforts are making steady progress and thus the collaboration will further deepen. We are taking the lead in this project by combining Mitsubishi's know-how in minicar development and manufacturing with Nissan's technologies.







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