Home » This Adorable Japanese Electric Micro-Van Might Be Coming To America In 2025 And I’m Excited

This Adorable Japanese Electric Micro-Van Might Be Coming To America In 2025 And I’m Excited

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Don’t check your calendar — it is indeed just past Thanksgiving and not March 32nd. That vehicle above this text is real and if all goes well, you could buy one in 2025. The HW Electro Puzzle is a Kei-sized electric commercial van designed to help you survive disasters all with a face that will make your heart melt. Let’s take a look.

Kei cars, or Keijidōsha, are the smallest class of cars allowed on Japanese roadways. These vehicles have size and engine restrictions. In exchange for dealing with diminutive size and power, owners of these vehicles benefit from tax and insurance benefits. If you want a Kei car in America, most of the time you’ll have to wait until the one you want is 25 years old. You can get newer ones, but those will be low-speed vehicles not legal for highway use. Japan’s HW Electro has not stated what its Puzzle EV van will be classified as in America, but I could see it as a low-speed delivery vehicle.

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HW Electro was founded in 2019 in Japan with a mission statement of “We manufacture and sell electric vehicles (mainly light commercial vehicles) that will lead the way in the future, with an excellent concept that takes economic efficiency and environmental issues into account.”

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The young company says it is the first company in Japan to obtain a license plate number for imported electric light commercial vehicles, and as of 2019, the company says it is one of three selling electric light commercial vehicles in Japan.

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HW Electro is led by CEO Xiao Weicheng, who believes the switch to EVs has taken too long for commercial vehicles. Weicheng believes the best plan forward is to get light electric commercial vehicles on the road as soon as possible. HW Electro entered the Japanese market with the Elemo, a tiny electric cabover cube truck.

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That little guy is targeted at businesses needing to navigate urban environments, neighborhoods, and farm roads. The Elemo is built in Hangzhou, China, which seems to explain the previous claim about getting a plate number for an imported electric light commercial vehicle.

HW Electro has also filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It’s seeking to raise $17.25 million with it. In the filing, the company says that in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, it delivered 66 and 16 electric light commercial vehicles to 15 and 11 customers, respectively. So, the company is building and selling vehicles, albeit not a ton of them at a time.

HW Electro Puzzle

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So, what are we getting here in 2025? The Puzzle concept was first shown during the 2023 Japan Mobility Show before it was unveiled again to press in New York. Weicheng says this about the Puzzle:

“The PUZZLE launch marks HW ELECTRO’s dedication to addressing environmental challenges and creating innovative eco-friendly solutions to the commercial vehicle market. We are excited to officially showcase PUZZLE today and we look forward to making it available in the U.S. market in 2025.”

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The Puzzle is an all-electric commercial van measuring 11.13 feet long, 4.83 feet wide, and 6.3 feet tall. It rides on cute 15-inch wheels and rides on a 97.63-inch wheelbase. Like any good delivery van, the driver can access their cargo from the sides or from the rear, and the van has a 770-pound payload. Also like many Japanese vehicles, it’s built to help you survive a disaster. This means the van has external AC outlets, USB ports, Wi-Fi internet, some emergency tools, a crowbar, and a first aid kit. It’s basically a rolling power station! Speaking of power, the van’s roof is also covered in photovoltaic panels to help extend the battery’s life.

The design, while cute, is also functional. HW Electro says the friendly body will help the company cut down on tooling and costs. Multiple parts of the body also use the same panels, further simplifying manufacturing.

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The interior of the van is pretty minimalist. There are a couple of displays, but they aren’t huge. They are accompanied by a handful of buttons, outlets to plug in gadgets, and a fold-flat passenger seat.

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If you didn’t notice, the interior panels have what seems to be pegboard surfaces so you can hang accessories. My favorite part about the interior is the shifter. It almost looks like a glossy reimagining of a Hurst shifter. I dig it.

Weirdly, while HW Electro has released no information about the battery, the motor, the range, or literally anything else, it did release a companion app. This app allows a Puzzle owner to monitor their vehicle’s vitals, location, and other statistics. HW Electro envisions a future where owners will use an app for routing, dispatch, vending, and calling for emergency services.

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We’ll be watching this one as 2025 nears. If the Puzzle ends up as a low-speed vehicle, it probably won’t be super useful outside of a city. On the other hand, this does seem like the perfect little van for local deliveries. Either way, it’s as cute as a button and I just want to give it a hug.

(Images: HW Electro)

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Christo Arvanitis
Christo Arvanitis
4 months ago

I like it. Will this be China built like the Elemo or will it be Japan built? Also curious of the Elemo was a rebadge or their own design. There are so many EVs to chose from in China. I’m intrigued but suspicious…

Leonardo Bacigalupe
Leonardo Bacigalupe
4 months ago

That’s is an ugly design, with unnecessarily sharp edges, just like the cybertruck, but man, a teal crowbar! I’m sold

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

I unironically love the teal crowbar, I’d never use it but I love it all the same.

Myk El
Myk El
4 months ago

That would handle so much of my vehicle needs, it’s not funny.

Huja Shaw
Huja Shaw
4 months ago

I’d be happy with this thing for hauling lacrosse gear and weekend antiquing – wait, that’s not me, that’s my pretend self who lives in Greenwich, CT and is a distant Kennedy relative. Real me could make a go with this ride if has second row seating options.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago

+1 for that shifter. -2 for the tail lights in the rear bumper. That’s never a good idea on an urban delivery vehicle. Maybe they plan to offer a subscription for getting replacement lights every month?

They might have to change the tool selection for the NA market. Drop the crowbar for an inflatable dingy in the SE, a fire extinguisher for the SW and a snow shovel for the north.

If they do intend to sell it here, it might even be the first kei class with left hand drive!

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago

Depending on how exact you want to get, there have been LHD versions of vehicles which also had Japan-only Kei-compliant variants (the ones I can think of are the Suzuki Jimny, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the Smart ForTwo).

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

I forgot about the Jimny. The Mistubishi was actually enlarged for the NA market. They made it wider. I don’t believe the Smart was intended as a kei. It likely conformed in size, but wasn’t the displacement of the engine larger?

It’s possible the Subaru 360 would count. And the Honda N600 too.

Maymar
Maymar
4 months ago

Like I said, Kei-compliant variants. You’re right, the North American-spec Mitsu was widened. Likewise, Smart offered a slightly narrower ForTwo with a sub-660cc engine in Japan.

Good call on the Subaru 360 though, and probably the Honda as well.

Scott
Scott
4 months ago

No one would be surprised, but of course I like it. A lot. 🙂 Friggin’ adorable! 🙂

I’d even be interested if it weren’t really capable of freeway speeds (though, with 15″ wheels, it doesn’t seem impossible, at least for an exit or two if necessary). However, I expect it’ll be crashworthyness where it might come up short.

Also, it’s going to come down to cost. It’s appealing, and a case could be made for it (even if just a low-speed NEV) if base versions of it can actually be bought for $10Kish. If it’s closer to $20K, they’d only sell a handful of ’em, and those only to weirdos like me, not to actual small businesses.

Which would be a shame.

PS: that Elemo cabover mini is also cute as the dickens! Things would be so much more interesting if we had adorable miniature weirdos like these running all over LA.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
4 months ago

In an exclusive announcement for Autopian readers, I reveal the Puzzle Camper Uno. The interior will consist of a custom futon framed with 80/20, the food-prep area is a 12-volt Dometic 46-liter refrigerator with a built-in countertop. Water “system” is a Stanley thermos, and I’ll find a clever composting toilet to fit under the futon. There will be no passenger seat (hence the “uno” name) to fit the food-prep and clothing storage area.

This is the ultimate camper for the terminally shy who want to explore their immediate area in a low-carbon manner.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago

This thing should have been the Cybertruck! Similar angular styling but more cohesive, more useable and not peddled to the public by a narcissistic weirdo!

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Do we know for sure that Xiao Weicheng isn’t a narcissistic weirdo?

10001010
10001010
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

I assume that anyone willing to take on a CEO position has a healthy dose of narcissism and weirdness.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

I guess the CEO thing was more of a “Cherry on top” thing.. even without that it’s still a sundae!

Drew
Drew
4 months ago

I’d love to see this available as highway-legal, but I could see getting it as a local runabout if the price is right. I’d love to convince my workplace to use something like these for some of our on-site vehicles. They’d probably do better than most of what we use now (a mix of little runabouts and mostly unnecessary pickups), but change is a tough sell. They prefer to replace like-for-like, even if it’s not the right vehicle for the job.

Last edited 4 months ago by Drew
Salaryman
Salaryman
4 months ago

When I first saw the crowbar mentioned as a standard feature, I figured it was for road rage.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

Has anyone checked with Maine, or that secretive, private email networking group of state government employees, to see if they’re OK with this?

Max Finkel
Max Finkel
4 months ago

PERMANENTLY

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

Well, I see a stalk behind the steering wheel, and what look to be regular buttons for HVAC, so it’s not automatically ruled out. Funny that no specs were released, tho. We need to keep an eye on this company and track how this goes.

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