Awwww, look at how cute these tiny Japanese cars are! I must have one! Never sold before in North America, Japanoid, a Canadian importer of K-cars (otherwise known as Keicars or Kei Jidousha), is finally bringing these adorable super-compact cars to Canada (albeit 15 years older — more on that below).
K-cars were originally built following a call by the Japanese government to create lighter and more efficient vehicles, with an incentive of special tax breaks to cars that meet their standards: under 4.4 meters long and 1.5 meters wide (roughly 14.4 feet long and 4.9 feet wide) with engines regulated to be less than 660CC and no more than 64 horsepower. This resulted in incredibly fuel efficient cars, though many have souped-up motorcycle engines with sophisticated turbos, superchargers and dual-overhead cams.
As for Japanoid's 15-year-old offerings, they're arriving late because Canadian law allows their importation only if they are 15 years old and pass a safety inspection before departure and upon arrival. And if you're in the U.S., tough luck — you'll have to wait 25 years instead (which means you're not getting it, period). Even though these cars are 15 years old, though, they don't have much mileage on them (the Japanese don't drive their cars as often as we do), and are sold for somewhere between CAN$5,000 and CAN$7,000.
Caveat emptor: these cars are right-hand drive only, which may be a deterrent to many. Japanoid seems to pooh-pooh this by saying "many cars are so narrow you can drive on whatever side of the lane you want" and that there are benefits to right-hand driving, like "parking and pressing crosswalk buttons." Which wouldn't be so worrying, if they didn't also say right-hand drives mean "speeding tickets are for sure a lot safer for the cop that pulls you over." Still, for a cute car (such as this Toyota Sera) that's sure to be the envy of my Mini Cooper-sporting neighbor, I'll live. Now if only that 15-25 year ban was lifted...
Japanoid K-cars [Japanoid via Treehugger]