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.