The antidote of the jacked-up trucks at SEMA are the krazy kustom keis at the Tokyo Auto Salon. The 0.6 liter bonsai cars, born out of a post-war necessity, are having a huge revival in Japan. Formerly a favorite of farmers, kei cars are now the choice of inner city hipsters – if they drive a car at all. This is a quick tour of the keis of the Tokyo Auto Salon.
Kei cars have reached a nearly 40 percent market share in Japan. Their sales increased in 2013, while sales of regular car retreated. Honda’s N-BOX has taken Japan’s kei-car market by a storm, and established Honda as a serious contender in that segment.
This orange crate is branded as a N+ Box “Element” concept, but knowing Honda, they’ll make it.
The N WGN is the latest in Honda’s N line-up. Put a kawaiii bow on it, give it a whacky “Macaroon Color Collection” name, and it is ready for the Auto Salon.
The kei car market used to be owned by Suzuki and Daihatsu. With Honda entrenching, they have to fight back.
This is the Suzuki Hustler, a Kei crossover that is supposed to reach the younger target groups and get market share back from the Honda N-Box. The Hustler has already been shown at the Tokyo Motor Show as a concept.
At the Auto Salon, the Hustler draws big crowds, and it looks like Suzuki will go with it.
Toyota’s kei-division Daihatsu has been drumming up interest for its Kopen (as in open kei). It has been shown at the Tokyo Motor Show, and it is back at the much bigger Tokyo Auto Salon. Roadster kei show well, but they will most likely draw limited sales.
Topless and nude: The chassis of the Kopen open Kei, totally undressed. A sight das makes every engineer’s heart go waku-doki.
This is the chopped version of Daihatsu’s XM1, the crossover version of the Kopen. In frpny: the car that provided the design inspirations.
This is the unchopped version of the Daihatsu XM1.
Car conversion artists turn keis into a yellow Cool Bus.
With a Haflingeresque chassis, this Suzuki is ready for Japan’s steep mountain roads.