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Japanese Engine Displacement
When older Japanese cars and engines are examined closely, you’ll start noticing some odd similarities. One such example on Japanese engine displacement is that almost all Kei (mini) cars and trucks have a 660cc engine and are almost identical in exterior size, almost down to the centimeter. Another example on Japanese engine displacement is the 2000CC engines on cars older than 1989. Classic Datsun and Nissan Z cars were exported with 2.4 – 3.0 liter engine displacement, but Japanese engine displacement was only 2000CC. Do Japanese car owners like having less power and smaller cars than foreigners? While owning a smaller vehicle is a definite benefit for some, the main reason is road tax.
For tax purposes, Japanese passenger vehicles are split into only 3 different classes. They are:
Kei: Currently regulated to less than 3.4m long, 1.48m wide, and 2m high with an engine displacement under 660cc.
Small: Currently regulated to less than 4.7m long, 1.7m wide and 2m high with an engine displacement under 2000cc.
Normal: Anything larger than Small. Maximum vehicle dimensions are 6m long and 2m wide.
To encourage purchasing of cars post-war (the first regulations on Kei starting in 1949), the road taxes on Kei cars were significantly lower than that of the Small car, which was, in turn, significantly lower than taxes on Normal cars. How significant? Kei annual taxes were almost ¼ the tax of Small cars, which was less than ½ of Normal cars. For comparison, according to the Japan Auto Manufacturers Association, Japanese auto tax is approximately 14 times more than the US, 2.4 times more than Germany, 1.4 times more than the UK, and 6 times more than France. The discounts on smaller vehicles made a big difference to Japanese vehicle owners.
Starting in 1989, in order to encourage the people to start buying larger engine cars, the small and normal car tax became a graduated scale in .5 liter increments. So a 2.5 liter car would still be more expensive, but not twice as expensive as a 2 liter car. This change in the tax structure is why cars such as the 300zx (z32), Supra (A80) and Skyline GTR (R32) all had both a Japanese engine displacement option of 2 liters, but all new models after 1989 only have larger engine displacements.
Within the last 3 years, new legislation has been passed to discourage Japanese car buyers from buying Kei by raising the tax on Kei vehicles. The road tax was raised 50% on newer Kei vehicles and almost 100% on older Keis. Consequently, there was a drop in kei vehicles being purchased with more car owners giving up driving as opposed to replacing their Kei with a larger car. Although Kei vehicles still hold a 35%+ market share, if current trends continue, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of Kei cars and trucks as we know it.
Written By: Yoshiro Nakajima
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The experienced, grizzled veterans of the import scene. They were very accommodating with all my questions and concerns. It was my first time importing, so everything was confusing and intimidating, but I'm happy to report everything went as planned! I'm definitely calling them back when I finally come up with an excuse to import another!
Mathew was great to work with and made what could be a scary daunting experience very easy. I am super happy with my car and am sure I will be importing with them again!
Working with Mathew and his team was an absolute pleasure. I went from never knowing you could import your own vehicle to owning my own Suzuki Cara within 6 months. Mathew was so helpful and completely transparent with me during the entire process. We spoke on the phone and via email and he helped me pick the perfect car exactly within my requirements. He dealt with my excitement and inexperience with patience and understanding. I couldn't be happier with my experience and will absolutely use Japan Car Direct again when it's time for another project. I highly recommend Mathew and Japan Car Direct.
Just purchased my second car through Japan Car Direct. Could not be more pleased with their customer service. Matt went above and beyond to help me find the right car. Translating countless auction sheets, messaging sellers, requesting vehicle inspections, putting up with me and my requests well after his time in the office, etc. I can happily and honestly say that I would recommend this company to anyone looking to purchase a car from Japan and that you will not be dissappinted. Very kind, helpful and professional. Can’t wait for vehicle number 3.
Mathew and the team are amazing. Bought my first Porsche in Japan and they have helped me all the way through. They are competent and honest people, will definitely be doing more business with them. Thanks guys!
Mat is is the best he was right on target and video descriptions are perfect. Shipping was alot faster than I thought it would be, as JCD didn't mess around. My van was at port and ready to go. I will be using JCD again soon, got my van now I want a car.
I hunted the internet for a broker I could trust with my money. JDC won and I am so happy I went with them. Matt and Yoshi are great. Matt puts up with a very demanding customer in me, I can certainly take up time. Matt sends me cars from the list I sent him, when I don't have time to check the auction. It is scary how accurate Matt is when I ask him to predict a selling price. He is always very close which sometimes is not fun but he really does know pricing. They have walked we through buying two cars now and have held my hand on both. I really apricate all the time and knowledge. After purchase they have also held my hand through the whole import process which can be daunting for a first timer. I am a dealer and Matt is great at suggesting other cars to import as well. I am very satisfied with my choice
What can I say? The service was friendly and good, and I got my car, which ended up being in a better condition than expected. Sure, there were couple of unforeseen snags that no-one had anticipated, but overall, it was an extremely positive experience. Hommat meni hyvin, auto tuli Suomeen eikä noiden pyytämä hintakaan ollut mikään mahdottoman paha.
I bought a 1993 RX7 FD from these guys they are great! Communication was very good, and prompt! Iv has my car now for 6 months and have been loving it! I would recommend emailing them and looking into the options! They are upfront about price and will steer you into the right direction on what the car will take to own! I’m working with Yoshiro to buy another car now! I’m very pleased with the service I received. It can be scary sending lots of money to a person you don’t know for a car you have never seen, but they will come through with everything they tell you they will do!
They've somehow made what was expected to be complicated, so simple. I got all the info I needed and imported my first JDM car without a single problem. Matthew was super fast to respond and always had an answer.
A must for exporting cars from Japan. I've exported various models with these guys now and they have been exactly how we wanted them with no underlying issues or surprises when they arrive. Very pleased and will continue to use these guys in the future!
This was my first time importing a vehicle for my personal use and naturally I was leary about who to go through. After looking through a few other places and after getting in touch with a longtime customer of theirs I decided to try these guys out. I can say without a doubt I'm glad I did. They are definitely professional and know their craft when it comes to getting you your dream car. Everything from getting cars inspected and bidding was completely transparent and went smoothly. I couldn't be happier with the car I bought and I hope down the line I'll be able to purchase another using these guys!! Thanks for all you guys do!!!
I have already purchased 3 cars from this company and have a 4th on the way. They are very nice, extremely helpful, and work around your budget. I worked with Yoshi. He is very nice and made me a lot more comfortable with the wire transfers (after purchasing the vehicle), because let’s be honest, it is nerve racking to send money to a foreign country and have to wait several weeks for your vehicle to arrive. However, everything has gone smoothly, and they make it very easy to import the car of your dreams. I will continue to go with Japan Car Direct for all my japan car needs 😀
Amazing people to work with. Answered any question I could think of and never left me hanging in during the entire process. I was always kept in the loop. Matt and his team are superb in every way. From picking my car out at auction to picking it up at port they were always there and now I have great little cappuccino to drive around now! I will be using them again to bring in another car in the near future that's for sure.