For ages, the kei car has been one of the darlings of the automotive world, owing to its tiny size and equally tiny engine (that also netted owners a smaller tax bill). Alas, Japan’s littlest cars may soon be put in a toy box destined for Goodwill as the nation’s government puts the pressure on both automakers and owners to move toward supporting bigger offerings.
Over two decades ago during the early years of Japan’s Lost Decade (or Lost 20 Years for those who believe the nation’s economy has yet to improve since the boom of the 1980s), Soichiro Honda’s final car before his passing — the Honda Beat kei roadster — left the Yachiyo Industry Company-owned factory at Yokkaichi to take on the likes of the Suzuki Cappuccino and Autozam AZ-1.
History could come back around, however, when the factory gears up to build the production-version of the Honda S660 in 2015.
Seen as a successor to the early ’90s Honda Beat kei car, the new S660 roadster, which will go into production in 2014, was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show. The midengined car, as the nomenclature indicates, is powered by a 660cc three cylinder turbocharged engine driving through a seven speed paddle shifted transmission. While kei cars are meant specifically for the Japanese domestic market, there is a possibility that it might be sold, with modifications in other countries. Honda senior designer Ryo Sugiura, when asked about selling the little roadster outside of Japan, said, “I cannot tell you if it will or will not. It’s a secret. The car would certainly need some re-engineering.” (Read More…)
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With a sales tax increase of 3% looming next year and the Japanese economy on an upswing, October retail sales of cars and light trucks in Japan were up over 17% from the same month last year, with both regular and mini “kei” cars doing well. Honda led all companies with a 50% increase from 2012 and Toyota taking first place in overall sales with a little over 140,000 units sold, up 13%. (Read More…)
Honda’s rear-driven products built for two tend to be motorcycles, scooters and ATVs for the most part, but every now and again the company will unveil a roadster whose name begins with an S, and ends with the number of cubic centimeters the engine provides.
Such a car is set to return soon to the showroom floor, and will make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November: The Honda S660.
After accumulating some $9 billion in losses, Mitsubishi Motors is bringing its financial house in order. According to Reuters, “Mitsubishi Motors is considering asking shareholders to approve plans for a 10-for-1 reverse stock split. At the same time, the company may ask shareholders to approve a capital reorganization – a change in accounting that would make it possible to resume paying dividends.” (Read More…)
They can cuff me anytime.
Hot girls in short skirts are the first things that leap into my mind whenever anyone says anything about the Japanese. The internet has not helped to change that, in fact it may have made things worse. If you add the word “Japanese” to any noun that describes a group of people and enter it into your favorite search engine, pictures of hot young girls will always appear near the top of the results. Look for Japanese tour guides, Japanese students, Japanese beach volleyball players or Japanese anything and you will see I am right. Try it, I’ll wait.
Now that you’re back, did you look for Japanese Police? I did, and despite my prior confession I was surprised at what I found. (Read More…)
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami didn’t just destroy more than 410,000 cars in Japan. It also totally mangled the list of top selling cars in Japan. After a two year absence, two minivehicles took the top spot of the chart. Suzuki’s WagonR mini vehicle was the best-selling new car in May, Daihatsu’s Move mini vehicle took second. The first regular car was the Honda Fit in the 3rd position. Perennial leader Toyota Prius is in the 6th position, despite an early re-start of production. Full list after the jump …. (Read More…)
Japan has – as the confused reader of our monthly sales report from the Land of Nippon is woefully aware of – a two class car system. There are cars, and there are kei cars. Soon, there will be a three class system. (Read More…)
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn is a superstitious man. He doesn’t want to add a 13th brand to his (or rather Piech’s) large collection. (Coincidentally, 12 is the number of Piech’s children. More or less. Nobody is quite sure,) “There are some who knock on our door. Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up,” Winterkorn said to Wirtschaftswoche. Specifically questioned about Volvo or (gasp) Daimler, Winterkorn answered: „There are many who would like to snuggle in VW’s cozy bed. Thank you, not interested.” Instead, he’s re-thinking the line-up of his new acquisitions: “I could imagine a smaller Cayenne derivative. Or a Porsche below the Boxster. This is under discussion.”