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Daihatsu will be bringing several concepts to this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, including the FC Deck concept mini truck pictured above.
Each market has its favorites when it comes to cars. People in the Middle-East prefer powerful SUV’s like the Mercedes-Benz G-class, while in America the pick-up truck reigns supreme, especially the Ford F-150.
In Japan, the most popular car is neither big, nor powerful, but it fills the needs of most of its motorists. Since 2003, the most popular car sold in Japan is the Suzuki Wagon R.
The Wagon R is a kei-class vehicle, which means it fits in Japan’s stringent “Kei” segment. Cars in this segment, the smallest road-legal cars available. Kei cars cannot have engines larger than 660 cc, can be no longer than 11.2 feet, should have a maximum width of 4.2 feet and cannot be taller than 6.6 feet.
Despite such restrictions, all major Japanese manufacturers offer cars in this segment. And just because they are small, don’t think they have skimmed on equipment either as all-wheel drive, turbocharged engines and all sorts of electronic gizmos are available.
Between the generous equipment levels, tax breaks and fuel savings these cars provide kei-cars have become wildly popular in Japan. According to “The Japan Mini Vehicle Association” more than 50% of the cars on Japanese roads are now kei-cars. Not only are these cars popular in city centers, but the survey reveals that even in rural areas people prefer smaller vehicles.
The least popular city for such cars is the metropolitan city of Tokyo, where only 11% of household owns kei-cars, while in Tottori Perfecture, 98% of households own kei-cars.
Since fuel prices and congestion in big cities is ever increasing in North America, would this trend catch on here? We highly doubt it.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Suzuki has been struggling with its car division in North America, and sales in 2010 were particularly poor. However, in its home market of Japan, the brand does quite well, thanks to tiny run-abouts like this new MR wagon.
The MR wagon fits under the kei-class category in Japan, which in English would mean, ultra sub-compact. There are many benefits to owning such vehicles in Japan, as you get plenty of tax cuts for driving economical vehicles. So like all other kei-class cars, the MR wagon features an engine displacing just 660 cc and three-cylinders.
You can either get a normally aspirated engine that produces 54-hp, or a turbo-charged unit that develops a ‘whopping’ 64-hp. You can also choose between a front-wheel drive model and an all-wheel drive model. However, the only transmission on offer is a CVT automatic.
The new MR wagon order book is now open. Prices start at about $14,000.
Nissan and Mitsubishi announced a new joint venture today, notably involving a minicar project that will see Nissan’s engineering prowess and Mitsubishi’s small car expertise utilized in to give greater market share to both companies in markets outside North America.
The first salvo of products will include a Nissan-built van to be sold as a Mitsubishi in Japan, while Mitsubishi will build a Nissan badged SUV for the Middle East market. The upcoming minicar will compete in a segment that comprises a third of Japanese new car sales, and has increasing demand in many developing markets.
“In the global auto industry, cooperation on specific projects among automakers is becoming increasingly common,” Ghosn said at a press conference announcing the venture.”It is, in fact, a signal of how our industry is evolving to sustain success over the long term, by leveraging size, scale and investments more effectively to create more value.”
[Source: The Detroit News]