DFSK, a subsidiary of state-owned Dongfeng Motor, will supply 5,000 small trucks to Japan's SBS, which will buy another 5,000 from other Chinese automakers. BYD, another Chinese electric carmaker, aims to offer buses at a 40% discount to its current price of 40 million yen ($354,120) in Japan.
The Chinese electric vehicle makers are filling a gap in the Japanese transport market where companies are trying to switch to greener versions to comply with the nation's emissions targets. Japanese automakers, however, have not been able to move quickly enough to make all the vehicles the local market is demanding, raising worries that they will lose out to their Chinese rivals.
The first 1-ton electric trucks DFSK supplied to SBS were, in fact, designed by folofly, a Japanese EV startup, but manufactured by DFSK. SBS will purchase 1.5-ton trucks from another Chinese EV maker.
Excluding subsidies, each 1-ton electric vehicle will cost SBS 3.8 million yen, on a par with the price of a regular Japanese truck. This suggests that with subsidies, the Chinese versions will be cheaper.
These electric vehicles have a range of 300 kilometers and will be used for home delivery of goods. SBS hopes to start importing them in January.
Over the next five years, SBS will replace its fleet of 5,000 Japanese diesel trucks, including those used by partner companies, with the Chinese electric ones.