Nissan’s Sakura Minivehicle Is A Shockingly Affordable — And Adorable EV

The Nissan Sakura (Japanese for cherry blossom) is a cute and affordable mini vehicle based off battery tech from the LEAF. Launching in Japan this summer, the retail price ranges from 2.33 to 2.94 million JPY (roughly 17,000 to 22,000 US dollars) — the Sakura is a promising signal that EV tech doesn’t have to be reserved for large, expensive vehicles. It will come in 15 adorable body colors, four of which are two-tone and “evoke the seasons.”

What Do You Get for That Much?

The Sakura’s 20kW lithium ion battery and two-wheel drive configuration won’t set performance records, but give a 180km (111 miles) range and quick charging to 80% in just 40 minutes. The compact promises a 4.8 meter turning radius, 47 kW and 195 Nm of motor output for clean highway maneuvering, and “the highest level of cabin quietness in the minivehicle class.” It will have plenty of exterior lighting options and and capable projector triple-beam headlights.

Good Things to Come for America?

Nissan’s electric strategy in the US with the luxurious Ariya SUV seems to cater bigger and more expensive — falling in line with buying habits of American consumers. But at a price that’s hard to find even in cheap gas cars, I can’t help but imagine there’s a huge gap that big makes like Nissan could fill if they wanted to bring compacts like the Sakura stateside. The first-generation LEAF was a good affordable option, as Nathan can attest to, but the Sakura looks (to my eyes) far cuter and more practical with its boxy frame. The new LEAF has gone marginally upmarket and isn’t quite a bargain vehicle anymore.

For now the Sakura is a purely domestic product, but with the rising costs of all cars it sure would be nice to have some value options in the rapidly growing electric space.