Look, if Andy’s gonna directly call me out in a slideshow, I’m gonna respond. Novelty oversized vehicles are a menace, a danger, and have no business on normal roads. Kei cars, however, actually make sense in a world where humans coexist with vehicles—not just one where vehicles reign supreme.
Andy says kei cars are “too small, too unsafe, too slow and have the steering wheel on the wrong side.” Let’s delve into each one of these.
“Too small,” presumably, refers to the fact that you can’t haul stuff in them like a pickup truck. As someone who has actually hauled and towed plenty of things with pickup trucks, I understand that their capacity is sometimes entirely necessary — a 25-foot trailer is simply too much for a Sambar to pull. But unless you’re a contractor or landscaper, the actual opportunities to carry a full pickup bed load are vanishingly few. This is why God made UHaul rentals, for the one time every year that you need to move furniture.
“Too unsafe” likely refers to 25-year-old kei cars, the kind you’ll see imported to the states under our absurd laws. I will concede that 25-year-old cars are less safe than new ones, but I won’t concede that kei cars are less safe on the whole. Neither will studies done on the topic, which compared frontal crash safety between kei cars and “normal” competitors, and found the smaller vehicles to have a commensurate level of safety.
“Too slow” is another fun one. Any modern kei car is capable of reasonable highway speeds. How fast are you all going on the highway? A Daihatsu HiJet probably won’t do the ton, sure, but would you want to?
“Having the steering wheel on the wrong side,” sure. But they wouldn’t, if kei cars were shipped to the U.S. by automakers, built for this market. This is a simple supply chain issue.
Kei cars are efficient, practical transportation. For most people, driving alone to work, they’re a better use of space and hydrocarbons than any F-Series or Silverado. The American obsession with bigger and bigger vehicles keeps killing people, and if we won’t invest in public transit we should at least be able to get kei cars.