I believe that Kei cars have a place in America. The super small, super efficient, and super cheap, cars could really help people here as well as improve overall fuel consumption numbers.
The elephant in the room is people crying “but they aren’t safe!”, because of their small size. To which I would reply, think about all the financially challenged people you see driving around in 20-30 year old cars. This probablem gets even worse when you liviing in the rust belt, where even a 10 year old car can be a rust death trap. Just a few days ago I saw a mother loading up her 3 kids in a first gen Matrix that looked like it could fold in on itself because it was so rusty, I realize that most states have some sort of inspection to prevent this, but I also know those inspections can be passed with superficial cosmetic repairs that don’t actually make the car safer. Providing an economically efficient way to buy a brand new car could push some of those old clunkers off the road. I’m all for saving older cars, but there is no reason anyone should be driving a 90s FWD Sedan with no rocker panels.
Obviously cost of ownership is greatly reduced. A brand new car comes with a warrenty which is a big advantage over a 5-10 year old car. Brand new the Honda N WGN is about 9k USD in its most basic trim, and 13,500 loaded. That’s cheap, but really not much cheaper than a Nisan Versa Sedan, or Mitsubishi Mirage, but you also have to consider that it’s rated at 29km/liter which is just short of 70mpg! That’s nuts, my wife’s Fit gets 35 on a good day. If you could also couple that with cheaper registration and normal insurance rates it would be a steal of a deal.
This lowered initial, and cost of ownership could provide a reason for people to buy knew instead of used car, which would help out automakers. Of course the big three would have to develop something to ring to market, but I’m sure they all still have ties to a company that makes a Kei currently and could just borrow some parts, just like in the 80s and 90s when they didn’t have any good subcompact cars.
Lastly it would improve global fuel consumption. Americans use a lot of fuel every day, and a quite a few people are conserned abuot it running out, or at least getting much more expensive. This is why so many companies are turning to electric cars, hybrids to sell a car for the future. I have a feeling that if you brought a car or market that did 70mpg and cost less than 10k people would folk to it. Especially if it had a funky design. Like the N-One, I think people would buy one of these just to be seen in it, like a classic Mini Cooper.
So its safer than a rusty 90s death trap it’s cheap to buy and own which could boost new car sales... at least for a few years... and those 70mpg figures would reduce America’s overall fuel consumption. Why are they not already being sold here?
Also because Jimny. If Suzuki doesn’t want to come back to the US market they could lisence it to FCA and they could sell it as a Jeep! Although Suzuki not bringing over the Hustler and Alto would be a shame.