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Proportion of households in Japan owning minicars exceeds 50% for first time

Integrity Exports. The proportion of households in Japan owning minicars (kei cars) has risen to more than 50% for the first time, according to figures from The Japan Mini Vehicles Association.  This figure of 50.6% was the highest proportion since this survey began in 1986.

This figure also includes working vehicles, notes Stephen Munday of Integrity Exports—e.g., a kei pickup truck or van rather than a kei car out in rural farming or fishing areas.

It is also interesting to note that the areas with both the highest and lowest numbers were unexpectedly in rural areas. This may well be a function of the fact that working vehicles were also included in the count, but it certainly belies the Western assumption that these kinds of small cars are only good in urban areas as “city” cars. Tottori Prefecture had the highest proportion with 98 out of 100 households owning a mini vehicle, and the area with the lowest number was Tokyo at 11.

It is likely that there are a whole range of reasons for this increase, but perhaps the most likely are the continued contraction in the Japanese economy as well as ever rising fuel costs, in conjunction with the demise of the car as a status symbol.



Owning, or exclusively owning ?
+ the aging of the Japanese population.

A 70 year old man thinks differently to a 23 year old.


One could say that people of different country and culture think differently, regardless of age. Many more people will better match vehicle size to real needs in the not too distant future. Driving around in a 4+ ton ICE monster may even become un-American by 2030+ or even before.

Ultra light weight micro and mini cars will be easier and cheaper to electrify and consume a lot less energy.


mahonj, "A 70 year old man thinks differently to a 23 year old."

I think I follow your logic, but in the US it seems the 70 yo usually keeps as many tons of car metal(usually pre-bankrupt GM) as possible between him, the other guy, and the auto accident emergency room.

So little faith in crumble-zones and air bags..


And a 23 years old has 3.3 times more accident per year than a 70 years old and 2.8 times more accidents per 100,000 miles.

Many 18 to 23 years old with a 4-ton truck can do a lot of damage.

May be, they should be restricted to lower speed micro cars for the first 10 years, i.e 16-18 to 26-28. That could reduce road fatalities by 40+ %.


People are loath to put their kids on the road in some ultra light weight micro or mini car so they can anticipate them being flattened by some Buick.

Clearly ALL cars on the road should be similar sized.
Trucks? I don’t know - just ban them and have all goods hand carried - create lots of green jobs. Yup – Yup.

I enjoy the nimbleness of a car sized so that I can touch all 6 widows from the driver's seat. My family definitely does not.

HarveyD may not change your mind about driving smaller vehicles but you children or grand children will.

The real dangers on our roads are all those young kids with large over-powered pick ups and a few beers under their belt. Insurance Cos know that and they charge them up to +500% more but it is still not enough to pay for all the damages they do.

Every week ends, the majority of the roads fatalities (up to 1000 in USA/Canada) are created by the 16 to 24 years old group. Those are well documented facts. Smaller lower speed cars, padded with one foot of foam, could help those kids to stay alive a bit longer.


Average yearly road accidents in USA for the last 10 years:

1. Yearly accidents....6,450,000
2. People badly hurt...2,900,000
3. Yearly fatalities 42,500
4. Yearly direct cost..$ 230,000,000,000 ($230+B)

This is one of the highest per capita in the world.
It is more damaging than all the current USA wars combined.


More stats on road fatalities.

Per million miles and per 100,000 people.

1. USA..........208 and 12.3
2. Canada.......179 and 9.2
3. Germany......175 and 4.5
4. Japan........160 and 3.85
5. UK...........137 and 3.9
6. Sweden.......133 and 2.9

USA and Canada could do more to reduce road fatalities and accidents. We have a long way to go to reach Sweden's and UK's low level.

Roger Pham

Thanks, HarveyD, for these vital statistic.
These go to show that Americans drive way more than any other countries in the world, and that even their honking big SUV's can't save America from have THREE times the traffic fatalities in comparison to other developed countries (beside Canada).

So Harvey has made his point: Even though most people in Europe and Japan have much smaller cars than Americans, they suffer far fewer traffic fatalities. It is obvious that people in the old world drive a lot less, but less obvious is that when most people have small cars, being hit by another small car is much less deadly than having a small car in the USA and got hit by a tall honking big SUV.

To model the successful war on tobacco by extreme taxation:
1) big and tall cars should be taxed a lot higher to discourage their possession. Alternatively, mileage tax can be assessed instead of fixed yearly registration tax, wherein much higher mileage tax for big & tall LDV vs smaller vehicles, to discourge frequent use of these road monsters.

2) broadly announce an yearly increase in the price of petroleum of at least 7%-8% to guide people's choice of vehicle purchase and to discourage too much driving.


Thank you RP. I agree with you that larger vehicles DO NOT reduce the number of fatalities per miles traveled nor per per capita. It seems to be the opposite for probably 1001 reasons.

Europeans and Japaneses use public transport (very high speed e-trains and buses) a lot more than we do. That seems to be a very efficient way to solve a nasty lasting problem. It will be decades before we get the very high speed e-trains they have, if we ever do. We recently postponed a new suburban lines (45 Km) with double deck e-trains because the cost is twice the original estimates i.e $20M/Km instead of $10M/Km. The e-trains cost (without open bidding) went up like the price of sugar and coffee. The only way to bring their price down seems to buy them (same trains) from China but that will not happen. We need the jobs.


" may not change your mind about driving smaller vehicles but you children or grand children will."

I DO drive (and enjoy driving) a very little car; pay attention.

A great many of the drivers under 30 seem to abhore small and/or fuel efficient cars.

They choose a BMW or Mustang or Camaro or Audi over a Focus or Cruz or Camry or Honda.

They chose an SUV or Jeep over a mini van.

They believe the national debt is absolutely nothing to worry about, it’s like Malthus and world starvation.

They believe the rich should pay more taxes (and they just "believe" that will magically take care of the debt - "as if the debt mattered").

Form over function. Anything they truly believe "will be and is true for them".

Not all, but a great many.

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