The Continued Rise of Japan’s Kei Cars

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, August 13th, 2011

The Japan Mini Vehicles Association today announced that the proportion of households in Japan owning mini (or kei) cars increased to more than 50% for the first time. This figure of 50.6% was the highest proportion since this survey began in 1986.

A little misleadingly, the results are presented as showing that more than one household in two has a kei car, but it is worth noting that this figure also includes working vehicles. Out in rural farming or fishing areas, this will often mean a kei pick up truck or van, rather than a keiĀ  car.

Kei (mini) cars in Japan

It is also interesting to note that the areas with the 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.

Source: Sankei Biz (Japanese-language)

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