What is a Mini Truck?
“Minitrucks” are just that. Small, two seat utility trucks that are used throughout Japan in all sorts of applications. From muddy farming workhorses, to delivery trucks, mobile merchadise stands, to hauling construction equipment. Anyone that has visited Japan would surely have noticed the large volume of these convenient small vehicles being used in all facets of everyday life. Also known as the “K Truck” or in Japanese “Keitora”, they are powered by liquid cooled two to four cylinder 550cc or 660cc engines. These trucks have been engineered to provide years of heavy-duty service and are a common site everywhere in Japan. Flying Horseshoe Trading Co. LLC only import’s the four-wheel drive versions for off-road applications. The Import Codes that we import them under prohibits them for Highway use. This is because Minitrucks do not meet U.S. emmission & safety standards for on-road registration due to that their are no Emissions statements from the Manufacturer for the EPA, there are no crash or impact studies & their size.
Japanese “K” or “Kei” class trucks are all similar (the same only different), but there are some differences between manufactures and year of manufacture. Suzuki Mitsubishi & Daihatsu have greater ground clearance & have mid engines. Honda & Subaru trucks have rear mounted engine & thus have a softer ride. Many of our trucks also may have air conditioning.
In the late 1989 mini trucks went from a 550cc motor’s to the 660cc motor, thus the 660 cc are 1990 and newer and the 550cc 1990 and older.
Minitrucks are designed to be workhorses for hauling heavy loads in extreme and adverse environments. Japan is a mountainous country and the Minitruck is primarily operated on the twisty, hilly roads many of which are rough & dirt, as well as the highways of Japan. Japans cities & marketplaces are tight & narrow & space is at a premium. Therefore Minitrucks come equipped with high-quality , high-performance engines, transmissions, brakes, and cooling systems to meet these requirements. Minitrucks are designed for comfort and ease of operation. These trucks must be able to do everything from hauling a load of sand, soil or rocks to rushing an express delivery down a rural road or in the tight market areas. Many often substitute as the “family #1 car or everyday driver.
Who makes them?
Japanese “Kei Class” or “K Class” subcompact trucks are manufactured by major Japanese auto makers that we are all familiar with & know them to be strong reliable vehicles that hold their value.
Honda’s model is the “ACTV”, Suzuki the “Carry”, Daihatsu has the Hijet”, Mitsubishi calls theirs “The Minicab”, Subaru has one it’s called the “Sambar” Mazda’s Scram is maufactured by Suzuki and is basiclly the same with the logo’s and placards being different. Daihatsu is actually Toyota’s Kei Class Division. As most of us here in the U.S. have found is that these manufacturers have produced extremely reliable strong running products. The Mini Trucks are no different and they make excellant sense for our off-road needs here in the US.
Why are Japanese mini trucks inexpensive?
They are subject to the same strict and very expensive inspection regulations as all other road-going vehicles in Japan. Japan’s emissions standards are extremely stringent. This means they must be well maintained. By the time the vehicle reaches 70,000 kilometers the regristration fees & taxes start to become too expensive. That owner had taken very good care of it typically & now has reached the point of buying a new one due to Regristation costs. By the time they get to 100,000 Kilometers it is just to costly to regrister & it makes better sense to trade up Typically the newer the truck the more miles. It has been used every day for daily deliveries much like our UPS trucks here in the states. This however, as with all other new vehicles sold in Japan causes a high depreciation rate over the years and eventually Japanese owners will trade a perfectly good vehicle in for a new one, often with very low mileage. we get a lot of 10-15 year old trucks with less than 100K on them in excellant condition. We find most of our older trucks have less than 100K. That’s what makes them ideal for overseas buyers & keeps Japan’s economy healthy.
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