Life with a Suzuki mini-truck

Originally published at: Life with a Suzuki mini-truck | Boing Boing


MotoCheez is funnier, but also very informative about his minitruck adventures, MotoCheez - YouTube.

I didn’t think those things were street legal in the US.

These things look awesome just wish there was an electric version. Also why is there no electric miata?


why? I have seen several kei trucks in Hawaii.

My Suzuki scooter in the 80s could never seem to reach top speed (the claim was 30 mph, IIRC) either. My friends’ Hondas could always eke out just a little more oomph than I could.

I didn’t think they met the necessary safety requirements to be licensed for public roadways. Also, a friend who wanted to buy one told me it wasn’t. But that was years ago and maybe for something that only looked similar.

Obviously, I’m wrong.

In most US states except California they become legal for importation and registration when they are 25yrs old.


Yeah, as a Californian I’m bummed that I can’t get myself an imported Honda Beat.

Edit to add: for those of you who are non-Californians, check out the delightful variety of JDM imports available here, including little trucks like the one in the post above.


Why would that exist?

Tesla took a 1600 lb Lotus and turned it into the 2900 lb Roadster. You’d just be increasing the weight of a Miata to 3600 lbs, which is as much as a CX-5. The Miata is like a cheaper, more livable, version of a Lotus. It’s designed to be light and nimble, not exactly the qualities of an electric vehicle.

Sort of the same issue with an electric Kei truck. They are designed to be small and cheap. I’m sure you could make an electric version in the same form factor and just limit range, but price would still be an issue. I’m also not sure how carrying capacity would be affected if you increased the entire vehicle weight.

A local used car dealer has about six of these on his lot with scissor-lift beds. I’ve given serious consideration to getting one for a farm runabout but I just can’t justify the cost to myself yet. Yet.

It’s coming in some form.


You are actually absolutely right.

These trucks do not meet minimal US Safety standards. They do not meet emissions standards.

There are several companies who import these brand new into the USA to sell as off-road only vehicles. A vehicle imported this way can never be driven on the road or licensed as a “real” vehicle, at any point in it’s life. Even when it is older than 25 years.

There are some companies that import lightly used Japanese vehicles into the US market to sell to people who need these little trucks for grounds Maintenance or for their ranch. These vehicles are newer than 25 years old, and can never ever be licensed as a on-road “real” vehicle. They can’t be licensed as road vehicles, even after they turn 25.

Then there are people who import 25 year or older vehicles into the USA. A vehicle older than 25 years old does not need to meet US safety or environmental standards, but can be licensed for on-road use.

Even if your US Off-road only Japanese Minitruck is now older than 25 years, it can’t be titled for on-road use; it is based on the age it was when it was imported. There is no way to “cure” the title to get it to on-road use. It will forever be an ATV. Even though it is absolutely 100% identical to the one that got imported in after it was 25 years old and is a full street-legal vehicle.

If you ever buy one, be careful to know which one you are getting! (Unless you are getting it for off-road use; then either is fine.)


While we build our house upstate and ramping up our gardening, we’ve been waffling on buying a Gator of some variety for hauling stuff around. Ever since I saw how many used Dihatsus are kicking around, tho…

Except the next Miata/MX5 is going to be a hybrid. The one after that will probably be fully electric.
(ETA: Scooped. Still tho)

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I’ve been flirting with the idea of getting one of those Piaggio mini-trucks (which are really Daihatsu Hijets built under license), but there really isn’t any reason to justify it.
Well, maybe an Ape.

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Kei trucks (and cars) are a good fit in the UK (because we’re also an overcrowded island with narrow streets), and apparently, Australia as well:

I guess I just assumed smaller car means smaller motor and smaller battery, with out necessarily losing much range. I live on an island and really any range over 200 miles is pointless. I could do with less. I always assumed an electric motor would weigh a lot less than a internal combustion engine. Either I’m wrong or the weight of a battery vs a fuel tank out of whack or both I suppose.

You are right. The batteries are the big weight.

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