Honda’s all-electric N-Van will start at just $7,300

For decades kei trucks and vans have served as the backbone of Japan’s infrastructure. The rugged and super-compact commercial vehicles are just as prevalent making deliveries in crowded metropolises as they are hauling crops on rural farms. Honda is betting that these no-frills vehicles will be an excellent way to get more EVs on the road in Japan.

Honda’s N-Van is an already popular kei van that boasts incredible packaging efficiencies. The asymmetrical design has a pillarless structure on the passenger side, making for a vast loading portal. Commercial versions can be fitted with just one seat for the driver, while the rest of the interior folds completely flat. These features are a boon for packing and maximizing cargo capacity, so much so that Honda even created a solo camper concept out of an N-Van.

The N-Van debuted in 2018 and was engineered as a gasoline-powered car, so battery packaging is limited. Honda claims a cruising range of 124 miles, which should be plenty for a daily commute in Japan. It may even suffice for a workday’s worth of last-mile delivery runs that kei vans are typically used for in urban areas.

The strongest selling point for the N-Van is likely to be its starting price, which is just ¥1 million, or just a hair under $7,300 at current exchange rates that favor the dollar. Leveled out to historic averages, the price would be closer to around $10,000. That’s still an incredible entry price for a full battery electric vehicle. By comparison, the most affordable EV in the U.S. is the Chevy Bolt, which costs $25,600. Even with the federal credit of $6,000, that’s still a $12,000 delta. 

Honda purposefully priced the N-Van EV the same as its gasoline equivalent, in the hopes that consumers will opt for the emissions-free variant. Japan’s consumers have had a lower-than-average take rate on EVs, just 1% last year, compared to 2.5% in the U.S. Globally, the percentage was 8.3%.

However, public opinion might be shifting. Just yesterday, Japan’s Car of the Year honors were awarded to the Nissan Sakura and Mitsubishi eK X EV, a passenger kei van built by Mitsubishi and rebadged by Nissan.

Mitsubishi has been a pioneer in electric kei cars, starting with the i-MIEV that launched in 2009. It also offers a commercial kei van, the Minicab-MiEV, but it has less range than the Honda N-Van EV at just 83 miles while costing ¥2.2 million, or $16,000. 

The Honda N-Van EV goes on sale in spring of 2024 in Japan.

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