I've long thought that the US big three should invest in something like this.
Here in Japan, there's an entire vehicle licensing class devoted to small cars - Kei
Max dimensions: 3.4m x 1.48m, 660cc, 63hp. They're eligible for all kinds of tax breaks, insurance breaks, great on gas, and above all - cheap to
buy. I think the current cheapest is the Daihatsu Esse, which can be had new for under 7 grand US. Fleet style versions can be had in the mid 5s.
In my neighbourhood, roughly 40% of the cars parked in front of houses are of this class. They're a first car for most people, a car for the
housewife, a perfect company car for local stuff, and so on. Most families I know have one, with a larger (regular) car for out of town driving or
The upside off all this is that they sell - in good times and bad. Their production has kept Japanese auto companies afloat through the bad times
before, and all signs are that this particular bad time will be just the same. Cheap cars for the masses.
Think about it - take a truck like this one:
The venerable Daihatsu Hijet. Base price: ¥560,000 - about $5,600 USD, give or take (list, not street). How many of these can a small company buy for
the price of the smallest GMC pickup? Four? They're everywhere here. Useful and cheap. Small businesses love 'em. My local bakery has four of the
van model they use for deliveries. If they were in the states, they certainly wouldn't be able to maintain a fleet of 4 delivery vans - they'd have
to get by with one new one, or maybe two old ones - so they'd be able to take on a fraction of the work they do now. They'd have to pay more in
insurance, more in gas, and probably have to employ fewer people. Every year, they buy a new van - they replace the oldest of the 4. Every year, the
local dealer gets a sale. And so on.
These cars drive the Japanese economy. They're the backbone. If India can get this venture off the ground, it's going to change the country in a big