By on February 4, 2012

This just in: “The U.S. auto industry has dropped a demand for Japan to abolish rules related to minivehicles ahead of upcoming talks between the two sides over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone,” The Nikkei [sub] writes after reading this story.

Detroit made the generous concession to let Japan have its kei cars ahead of talks between Japan and the U.S., to be held in Washington on Tuesday. 1.52 million kei cars changed hands in Japan in 2011.

The small cars enjoy lower taxes and lower insurance rates in Japan. Previously, the Big Three U.S. automakers found that highly unfair. Rumor has it that after one of the three asked to have the demand dropped, the matter is fair again.

The Nikkei heard that U.S. automakers are worried that opposition against Japan could delay negotiations with other presumptive TPP members. GM wants to expand into fast-growing countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. These countries are taking part in the TPP talks. A successful deal would make U.S. cars more competitive in these countries.

In the meantime, Japanese are worried about “GM crops.” No relation to the General – the “GM” stands  for Genetically Modified. Allegedly, two thirds of U.S. food already is “Frankenstein food,” Japan’s Majiroxnews says. Fanning these flames would have much better chances for success than denying the Japanese their lower taxed kei cars.


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15 Comments on “Detroit: Never Mind, Let The Japanese Have Their Kei Cars. We Want Vietnam And Malaysia In The TPP...”

  • avatar

    I wish we could get some kei cars over in the US, anyone remember the Honda Z600?

    Would anyone believe that it could get 100mpg in the city?

    • 0 avatar

      What about 100mph on the highway? Or, even better, in the city :)

      • 0 avatar

        At 100mph you’ll probably get around 35mpg maybe 40 in a Z600.

        But to drive a car that small at those speeds you’ll need the guts of of a stunt driver.

        I felt small in my Dodge Omni when I was next to a semi, but if I were in a Z600 I’d feel like Jerry right next to Tom.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re reasonably common in South Dakota where they can be sold as an ATV and even driven on the street legally. Farmers love them because they have a cab with heat and A/C(!) and they can throw a bail of hay in the back etc.

      People in larger cities like them for their great fuel economy.

  • avatar

    How good of us to let them run their country.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s pretty self-centered of Detroit to think they are being targeted by this policy. Other countries have to match US emissions standards if they want to sell their product in the states. If you want to sell cars in a kei car-biased country, make kei cars…

  • avatar

    Ive been to Japan several times and people who can afford nearly 8 buck a gallon gas for Tahoes, Suburbans, Grand Cherokees and such DO drive them. While not exactly ubiquitous, one is bound to see a couple or few such vehicles on a daily basis. As far as imports go, BMW rules the roost. Large numbers of people there rely on Kei cars for trips to the supermarket and local transport within their urban neighborhoods.
    Any farther and they utilize the excellent train system. Also, in addition to the aforementioned economic benefits, Kei’s are exempt from the “proof of parking space” requirement that affects larger vehicles. To think that these people will suddenly gravitate to Focus, Fiesta, Dart, Caliber et al, is ludicruous.
    Japanese will buy US makes if they are prestigious enough,or cool enough EG
    hence the relative popularity of large big 3 SUVs, very often sold by 3rd party dealers BTW. However, prestige implies high prices and associated running costs, which inherently limits the size of the market. Anything from Detroit or elsewhere that is run-of-the-mill is doomed to fail. EG

  • avatar

    hilariously colonial!

    where i am, the states are free to ignore federal ‘recommendations’

    each state is its own little fiefdom with it’s own rules and taxes

    if they happily ignore the feds what chance would a foreign nation have?

  • avatar

    Frankenstein food? Do I smell red herring? Japan should be more concerned about radioactive clouds in the north and the toxic products being shipped out from their western neighbor.
    It is common knowledge at least that Japan has always protected its agribusiness. Why not? Without food, everything else is worthless. With the world’s population now heading to 8 billion, just which countries will be able to export food items in, say, 30 or 40 years?
    It looks like environmental change is affecting large swaths of the west central states of the U.S., Australia is being overwhelmed by desert, as is northern Africa (which used to be the bread basket of the world!) That would leave Canada, Brazil and Argentina as being the only 3 countries capable of exporting large quantities of food products in the coming decades. (BTW, Brazil’s population has probably hit 200 million by now, or will quite soon.)
    Not sure what Japan’s ulterior motive is (they always have one!), but engineered food products may be the ONLY salvation for humanity in the coming decades until more than a few countries learn to ‘keep it in their pants.’
    Well, at least until the food replicators in the Federation are brought back from the future….

  • avatar

    Welcome to so called “free market capitalism”, post civilization style. Instead of building cars people want for prices people want to pay, try bribing some scumbucket politicians into banning the cars people want, so they are force to buy whatever junk you are able to slap together for too much money.

    That whole notion that “The Rule of Law” is something worthy of celebration, is yet another piece of pagan religion that is highly overrated.

    • 0 avatar

      … and yet, many historians credit the ‘Rule of Law’ as one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason, the West ascended while the rest of the world continued for 500 more years to wallow in the Middle Ages.
      However, as with all great systems, British Common Law, etc. never foresaw the sheer explosion of laws necessary, nor the ugly degree of general dishonesty amongst the populace itself.
      Slogans like, “Satisfaction Guaranteed, or Money Cheerfully Refunded” were coined at a time when the customer could be trusted to legitimately discover a product was defective or unsuitable for its intended purpose after purchase. Those of us who have worked in retail for most of our adult lives can attest to the general disappearance of that former truism. Now, consumers demand an automobile be ‘perfect’ for 5,6, or 8 years, but don’t want to be bothered with the other half of the covenant: Thou shalt not abuse the product and must complete all required maintenance. Uh, oh!
      I am no fan of lawyers, having had very little use for them. It strikes me as the greatest hoax perpetrated on the modern world that lawyers are responsible for righting the laws that they then get to defend. Half the laws on the books could and should be deleted, but a bureaucracy exists to defend itself, so you will never see that happen. Cynicism aside, if we want to whine about the ‘rule of law,’ I suggest you visit places where there is no rule of law, places where laws are mere ‘suggestions.’
      China is such a place. The average citizen doesn’t trust the body politic, so they ignore or work around the laws. They then bring those attitudes here when they wish to achieve a ‘better life.’ Brazil, Argentina, and many others are still struggling with an endemic system of political corruption and the cynicism that has become entrenched in their societies. There are probably only 20 or 30 states in all the world that have decent property and human rights, and none of those are perfect.
      I always say, ‘You don’t like it here? Try moving to Vietnam, Sudan, Malaysia or a hundred other countries I could name. Then you will appreciate Canada and the United States, blemishes and all.

      • 0 avatar

        You have lived in all of those places, and you have the benefit of many years of first-hand experience, I trust.

      • 0 avatar

        You will find the only place on the planet that has lawyers to sue someone everytime you do something stupid is the US the one place where personal responsibility doesnt exist

      • 0 avatar

        “The rule of law” in the abstract did not bring middle ager’s out of anything. A specific class of “rule of law” did. This is a very important distinction. The rules of law that had positive effect, were the ones which were few and simple enough so that pretty much everyone agreed with them, and this allowed most people to agree with most decisions. A huge improvement over the arbitrariness of rule by King, or rule by Clergy, or rule by some slick talker who managed to drum up a bunch of votes.

        We no longer have that. Now, rule of law means rule of so many laws that noone can differentiate it from arbitrariness anymore. And we have no American frontier to bail for, when the riffraff and scumbags decide to rule arbitrary against us. And that’s the crux of the problem; no ability to exit for better rules of law, or, if the current one is decrepit enough, for no rule of law at all.

  • avatar

    So how come the Big 3 don’t produce Kei cars for this market? Nissan and Toyota both produce large pickup trucks specificallly for the american market. Why can’t american car makers do the same in Japan?

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