Kei Cars or minivans they're everywhere in Guernsey..
Any visitor to Guernsey will soon notice plenty of little cars, never seen on the 'mainland'. Nearly all are made by or for the familar Japanese brands; Suzuki, Daihatsu, Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota.
The prevalence of these tiny cars is partly down to a special taxation class in Japan called Keitoro or Kei class for short (pronounced Kay) which restricts the vehicles to 63 hp. and dimensions of 3.4 metres long, 1.48 metres wide and 2 metres tall.
In Japan, they must carry YELLOW number plates while all other vehicles have white number plates. Owners of WHITE plates must provide proof of a parking space and submit certification to the police before purchasing the vehicle whereas a Kei class vehicle can be bought without any parking restrictions.
Most Kei cars are sold on the domestic Japanese market as the export market is considered too small in general. However, they are available in the islands from main dealers and through specialist importers.
Japan's has many narrow roads in its old districts and heaving traffic in the cities so driving something small and nimble is an advantage. Being compact and low powered makes them ideal in a low speed location like Guernsey. Equally, Kei cars are very economical to run and they easily fit in the island’s dedicated small car parking spaces which are marked for vehicles with a maximum length 3.7 m.
The Kei class has evolved over time to adapt to regulations and trends. Many today tend to be boxy 'tall boys', designed to squeeze in as much space as possible. Popular models include the Suzuki Wagon R, Honda Acty and Daihatsu Hijet.
Some past popular kei cars include the Honda Beat, Daihatsu Mira and Cuore and Subaru Vito. Kei class vans such as the Suzuki Carry van are still very popular with tradesmen, having a surprising amount of room, economical and able to manoeuvre easily around narrow lanes.
The popular Suzuki Jimny is one of very few 4x4 Kei cars on the market.
There are several sporty, cabriolet Kei class types and they can be surprisingly quick too. The Daihatsu Copen, Suzuki Cappucino and Honda S660 are stand out models in this class.
Recently introduced Kei car models include the Toyota Pixis Joy and Suzuki Hustler.