Japanese innovation has dazzled the world for decades; but with all of its state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge designs, few would think that the latest item to cause a frenzy abroad is a humble vehicle straight from the rural roads of Japan. The kei truck, a type of tiny truck that's very popular throughout Asia, is earning fans in America for its compact size and versatility.
At first, one may think the dimensions of the adorable mini truck may have something to do with kawaii aesthetics. After all, most of them are only up to 11 feet long and less than 7 feet high. In reality, their size is a result of the Japanese tax laws, as smaller vehicles are taxed less.
Kei trucks first appeared in Japan in 1949. They evolved from three-wheel trucks based on motorcycles that were popular in post-World War II Japan. This tiny vehicle has an equally tiny engine. At 660cc, is about half the size of the smallest compact vehicles on the market. Many car manufacturers have produced their own kei trucks, like the Suzuki Carry, the Honda Acty, the Daihatsu Hijet, the Mazda Scrum, and the Subaru Sambar.
While it may sound impractical, the truth is that kei trucks rule the rural roads of Japan, allowing farmers and regular folks to carry their shopping, timber, or food for their livestock in a straight-forward way. These versatile vehicles can reach a speed of 62 to 75 mph; although, by law, were only designed for a maximum speed of about 50 mph.
Much smaller than a regular truck, but with a much bigger storing capacity than a compact car, Americans have found that kei trucks fill in a necessary gap in types of vehicles. However, its main downside is the regulations that would surround it should you want to import one. Business Insider reports that the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency has imposed some restrictions on more recent models. As they can be limited to 25 mph depending on the state, Pennsylvania requires them to be registered as off-road vehicles, while California's stricter environmental laws make it difficult to drive a kei truck there.
Despite the obstacles it may face, American kei truck owners have focused on the good—starting with their price. By law, new kei trucks can't be sold abroad, so the ones that make it to the U.S. are used models. However, they are usually in great shape and sold after only a few years of use by their original owners. This results in kei trucks being available for as little as $5,000, with the shipping costs making up for most of the price tag.
Although they are clearly not made for the wild American highway, the miniature size and reliable-yet-laidback spirit has conquered hearts abroad. Since Japanese car exporters are getting more and more requests for this type of vehicle, don't be surprised to spot a tiny kei truck on your next road trip through small town America.
The kei truck, a type of tiny truck that's very popular throughout Asia, is earning fans in America for its compact size and versatility.
Many car manufacturers have produced their own kei trucks, like the Suzuki Carry, the Honda Acty, the Daihatsu Hijet, the Mazda Scrum, and the Subaru Sambar.
Much smaller than a regular truck, but with a much bigger storing capacity than a compact car, the kei truck fills a gap in types of cars that many people want.
h/t: [Business Insider]