Sunday, September 25, 2011

Toyota news: For first time, Toyota launches tiny 'Kei' car in Japan.

Toyota has launched its first minicar, the Pixis Space for the home market in Japan recently.

These tiny cars, known as ‘Kei-class’ vehicles have become increasingly popular in Japan and now generate about a third of all new car sales there, the Associated Press reported from Tokyo.
Toyota Pixis Space

The Pixis Space is basically a rebadged "Move Conte" from Toyota-owned Dahaitsu Motor, which specializes in small vehicles. Starting price of these cars is 1.12 million yen ($14,700).

The Kei vehicles that qualify for lower taxes are defined under Japanese regulations being a maximum of 11.15 feet long, 4.86 feet wide and 6.56 feet high along with an engine smaller than 660 cc.

It may be tiny; the wheelbase is just 8.2 feet. But it offers a full range of options: six trim levels and a 660cc engine and CVT power train with start-stop which can be had with a turbo and with front or all-wheel drive.

The automaker, Toyota plans two more minicars for the Japanese market, believed to be a tiny van and a micro-truck, although it has not said when those will launch. Its goal is total annual sales of 60,000 in Japan for the three.

Minicars are popular for the tax savings and also with people who use cars for short commutes or grocery shopping, as well as with younger people who don't see cars as status symbols as did the older generation.

These cars are also easy to handle on Japan's crowded streets, and some come in cute designs and colors. Toyota photo above is a case in point which appeals to Japanese consumers.

The entrance of Toyota, the elephant of the Japanese market, into the segment is expected to heat up the competition in Japan. These minicars might also give Toyota additional products for some emerging markets.

Japan's No. 2 automaker, Nissan, has a deal with Mitsubishi for Mitsubishi to make minicars for Nissan.

Another automaker, Honda already sells several minicar models in Japan and sold 160,000 totals last year, about a quarter of its sales in Japan.

Filled under: TOYOTA & USA TODAY

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