FEATURE – WHAT ARE KEI CARS?
So you might have seen the Suzuki Cappuccino and thought, “What are Kei cars and why do they look so girly?” Well, we’re going to take a closer look at Kei cars, the most misunderstood vehicle outside of Japan.
It’s almost taboo for men in the western world to be seen in such an offensively small car. Their sexualities are questioned. Their manhoods brought into the light. But if you think that, you’re missing not just the point but also a whole heap of fun because most surprisingly, most Kei car owners are male.
But what are the origins of the Kei car?
Firstly, “Kei” (pronounced “kay”) is short for “keijidōsha”. Which means “light automobile” in Japanese. It was a special category created by the Japanese government to encourage smaller cars to be made and bought. The tax and requirements for buying a kei car are substantially lower. For example, you didn’t need to own a parking space to buy one (old regulation) and registration (annual in May) tax for kei cars was about 5000 yen (about 8 times lower) than the next highest category.
But for me, a gaijin living outside of Japan, these tax breaks have no effect on me. Instead, it’s the fact that the Japanese built some very interesting Kei cars, with features you expect only in larger cars. Crazy turbo-charged, 660cc, sub 700 kg and in some cases RWD pieces of engineering excellence. For example, if you have seen a double wishbone suspension setup you will know that it takes up quite a bit of space. Yet somehow in some cases the engineers have managed to shrink the size of the double wishbone and given it a lot of strength, all the while maintaining some decent interior space.
Another thing is the engines, most of which are 3 cylinders and in many cases, have the astounding capability to produce a power output almost 3 times their base power level while maintaining their reliability. Sure, 120kW at the wheels may not sound like much, but in a sub 700kg car that is a serious amount of fun.
And yet another thing, they put a smile on your face like no other car can do.
So get past the small car image, put your ego aside and go out and enjoy a ride in a Kei car. It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.
Bonus question: What are the names of the cars in this post? Leave a comment with your answer and receive a discount code for 15% on your sticker purchase.
Words – Benson Lau
Images – Hubpages.com
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