Light trucks (Kei trucks / Mini trucks) are small trucks that fall under the mini-vehicle category in Japan. As the name implies, it is a truck made to the standard of a mini car and is generally called a ” light tiger. ” The maximum load capacity is usually 350kg or less.
Because it is a light car, compared to the regular truck, the vehicle price and maintenance costs (annual vehicle tax is much cheaper. It is easily owned and maintained by individuals and microenterprises. The overall size and small wheelbase have the advantage of being easy to handle even on narrow roads, such as narrow farm roads or built-in residential areas.
Since the mini-vehicle standard is unique to Japan, it is mostly used in Japan. However, it is also exported to outside Japan.
Kei Trucks in North America
In the United States, vehicles were exported to meet American standards in the 1960s. However, the collision safety standards were tightened in 1968 and sold as work vehicles for use on farms, but sales were low due to withdrawal.
Currently, those imported in parallel by vendors are mainly used as off-road work vehicles (substitutes for ATVs) used for ranching and hunting, and maintenance work in parks as well as university campuses Also, public agencies such as the military and the Coast Guard have introduced such vehicles as work vehicles used at garrisons and airfields.
In the United States, right-hand drive vehicles are not allowed to run on public roads because they violate security standards. However, since 2015, some vehicles that apply the 25-year rule for imported vehicles have appeared. Light trucks, which have better handling than pickup trucks, are legal to import and use in the United States.
Exported Kei Trucks Design
All current models are cab-over type (full cab) or semi-cab-over type (semi- cab) with parallel two-seat cabins, but in the past, bonnet type ( pickup ) such as porter trucks and mighty boys, and single-seaters such as Midget II (manual There were also commuter-like light trucks (transmission vehicles only).
The vehicle came from the 1990s, although the number of vehicles using semi-cabs that can take a wide crushable zone temporarily increased to meet the collision safety standards. The wheelbase was inevitably increased, and the front wheelhouse occupied the forefoot inside the vehicle, making it comfortable.
Kei Trucks Basic Regulations for export
Light trucks and mini cars are acceptable as long as:
- the vehicle body is covered with a metal cabin,
- the height is defined by road vehicle transport law is not exceed 2m
- Being a minimum of 25 years old for United States Export
Front-engine engine (FR) is standard, except for the bonnet pickup. The mounting position of the engine can be beneath the sheet or underfloor
Since light trucks are often used on rough roads, most manufacturers sell both rear-wheel-drive models and four-wheel-drive models together, and part-time switching is the mainstream.
At first, there were many lever types, but the current type is mainly pushed buttons. As for tires, mud terrain tires for rough roads are available for light agricultural trucks. By the way, Deflock is provided as standard equipment only to cover disadvantages of small-diameter tires peculiar to light trucks, full-fledged four-wheel-drive vehicles equipped with large diameter tires that do not have this (Suzuki Jimny, etc.) It is premature to think that it is better.
All engines of the current model are in-line three-cylinder engines, many of which share the same basic design with passenger models of the same manufacturer. Most of them are naturally aspirated with a focus on economics.
Even after the installation of fuel injectors in passenger mini-vehicles became commonplace, many models used carburetors to reduce production costs, and completely switched to fuel injectors until the 2000 emission regulations were enforced. Was not done. Mid-low-speed, heavy load or traveling because in many cases is to have the output characteristic that specializes in, the highway was conscious of the high-speed cruise of like turbo, including the supercharger installation of is not common, under-floor. There is no case where an intercooler is genuinely installed due to restrictions on mounting space due to the format. Also, there are few cases where a supercharged car remains in the production lineup for a long time except for the supercharger car of Sambar truck.
The transmission is generally a low-geared manual transmission (MT) that is strong against low-speed and heavy-load running like the engine. In many cases, the final reduction ratio of the differential is also set particularly low.
Until the announcement of the new 660cc standard in 1998, automatic transmissions (AT) were not very popular, but today, AT vehicles are installed in light trucks of the entire company. The one without the power steering and car air conditioner is set as the cheapest model.
Kei Trucks Usage
It is used for both work and living in rural areas, fishing villages and fishing ports. It is a necessity for transporting tools such as agricultural machinery, harvested agricultural products, and landed marine products.
Since it has a weather-resistant 2-seat cabin, you can use it as a tool for everyday short-distance travel. Due to its widespread use, light trucks have even become one of the sights of Japanese rural landscapes. Even in urban areas, it is common for self-employed workers, such as shop owners and restaurant owners and construction-related artisans, to own light trucks and carry work tools, materials, and products by themselves. It is a car genre that is heavily involved in the Japanese culture and life.
There are also specialty transporters that use light trucks, such as red caps. In addition to transport motorcycles, it is used as a vehicle for narrow roads and special vehicles for small towns.
In the case of stores that handle large products such as home improvement stores and furniture stores, light trucks such as Mazda Bongo trucks and Toyota Lite Ace trucks are rented for a certain period to allow customers to carry large products. An automatic transmission (AT) Kei trucks are easier to drive. However, in cold regions where there is a lot of snow in winter (especially each side of Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku Japan Sea ), 4WD Manual Transmission (MT) is the favorite specification.
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