Ultra-compacts developed by Japanese carmakers were test-driven June 18 at the transport ministry in Tokyo as the government is planning to relax regulations so the small vehicles can soon be rolling down public roads.
Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Auto Body Co., Honda Motor Co., Daihatsu Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp. rolled out their ultra-compacts for government scrutiny.
The ultra-compacts are about 2.3 meters long and 1.2 meters wide and can carry one to three people. All are electrically powered.
Carmakers expect that such small vehicles will be used by seniors for neighborhood shopping, by couriers for short-distance deliveries and by tourists in sightseeing areas.
Only Toyota Auto Body’s one-person Coms Concept is currently allowed on public roads. Much of the Coms' engineering is based on standards for motorized bicycles.
The others are produced based on standards for mini vehicles, but they are not allowed on public roads because they do not meet collision safety standards.
The transport ministry plans to introduce a program this summer in which these small cars are allowed on public roads in certain areas, but not on highways.
Toyota Auto Body has sold about 2,000 Coms, intended chiefly for short-distance delivery routes, since its release in 2000. The company plans to roll out an improved version of the Coms this summer.
Nissan has developed the Nissan New Mobility Concept, a two-person EV.
Honda, Suzuki and Daihatsu unveiled their ultra-compact concept cars at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Honda’s concept car is a three-seater.
(This article was written by Keiko Nannichi and Satoshi Kubo.)
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