A cute name to pair its cute looks, Kei cars are a global phenomenon that took the world by storm. Kei cars are gaining popularity across automotive markets due to its compact and budget-friendly nature.
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WHAT ARE KEI CARS?
The word ‘kei’ is a shortened version of the phrase ‘keijidousha’, which means ‘light automobile’ in Japanese. These cars are capped at 660cc in engine capacity, and have a small dimension of 3.4m by 1.48m. Some of the known kei cars we see on the roads are the Honda N-Box or the Daihatsu Copen.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF KEI CARS
Kei cars were first introduced after the second world war as an affordable alternative to full-sized cars. After the war, most Japanese individuals were only able to afford motorcycles. In order to revive the car industry, automotive manufacturers decided to make kei cars to provide stores and companies a way to deliver products.
Kei cars started out with a standardised limit of 150cc engine capacity in 1949, but increased its limitations to 360cc in 1955 to encourage more manufacturers to shift their production focus towards kei cars. As a result, the first ever mass-produced kei cars were introduced in 1955 with the Suzuki Suzulight and the Subaru 360 in 1958.
Kei cars were eventually recognised and given special incentives in Japan such as reduced excise and weight taxes compared to full-sized cars, and a cheaper premium for insurance. Today, kei cars have a standardised engine capacity of 660cc and are found all over Japan, with about 40 per cent of the domestic market constituting kei cars as of 2019. These cars are instantly recognisable from their yellow car plates and definitely their rather compact, boxy body styles.
MAKING A MOVE WORLDWIDE
As sustainability goals and the cost of living increase across cities, the practicality of kei cars have shone through and thus grown in popularity amongst car owners. Many consumers wish to commute to and fro at an affordable price without the compromise of efficiency. Hence, the demand for kei cars have grown steadily worldwide, and even in Singapore!
Today, one of the most popular kei cars in Singapore is the Suzuki Jimny, which is a compact SUV that resembles a Jeep. A growing number of Singaporeans have fallen in love with kei cars as they are affordable due to lower road taxes, and unconventional car designs that stand out from the regular sedans and hatchbacks we see in Singapore.
If you are looking for a kei car, check out our new and used cars collection on UCARS for a collection of budget-friendly cars tailored to your needs!