The concept of Kei cars, or “keijidōsha,” is an integral part of Japan’s automotive culture. These vehicles are known for their compact size, efficient performance, and practicality, particularly in dense urban environments. Before we delve into Toyota’s involvement in the Kei car market, let’s understand what Kei cars are.
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Understanding Kei Cars
Kei cars are defined by specific regulations set by the Japanese government. These regulations stipulate:
- Maximum length: 3.4 meters
- Maximum width: 1.48 meters
- Maximum height: 2 meters
- Engine displacement limit: 660 cc
- Power output limit: 63 horsepower
The appeal of Kei cars in Japan stems from various advantages like lower taxes, insurance benefits, and suitability for the narrow streets commonly found in Japanese cities.
Toyota’s Foray into Kei Cars
Toyota, one of the largest automobile manufacturers globally, is known for its diverse range of vehicles.
However, when it comes to Kei cars, Toyota has traditionally not been as active as some other Japanese manufacturers like Suzuki or Honda.
That being said, the automotive behemoth that is Toyota still has some presence in the Kei car market.
Examples of Toyota Kei Cars
While Toyota itself doesn’t have a strong lineup of traditional Kei cars, its subsidiary, Daihatsu, is one of the leading manufacturers in this segment. Some notable examples of Kei cars associated with Toyota through Daihatsu include:
- Daihatsu Move: A popular Kei car model known for its boxy shape and efficient use of interior space. The Move is designed to offer the practicality of a larger car in a compact package.
- Daihatsu Mira: Another key player in the Kei car market, the Mira is known for its fuel efficiency and reliability. It’s a common choice for city dwellers in Japan.
- Daihatsu Tanto: Featuring a unique design with a high roof, the Tanto offers more interior space, making it a preferred option for families.
- Daihatsu Copen: This model stands out as a Kei sports car with its convertible roof and stylish design, offering a different flavor in the Kei car market.
There have been some Toyota-branded Kei cars that are effectively ‘rebaged’ Daihatsu cars, such as the Toyota Pixis Space which is a rebranded Daihatsu Move Conte (this is the car pictured above)
While Toyota itself doesn’t directly produce Kei cars, it has a significant presence in this segment through its subsidiary, Daihatsu. These vehicles, while conforming to the stringent Kei car regulations, offer a variety of styles and functionalities, catering to a broad range of customer preferences. Thus, Toyota, through its extended family of brands, does contribute significantly to the Kei car market.