It’s essentially a golf-cart with a mini-car shell, but these ultra-mini cars have been approved to hit Japan’s roads next year.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will begin an authorization system for the ultra-minicars in January.
The vehicles have a tiny 125cc engine and will only be fitted with two adult-sized, or one adult-, two child-sized seats. Because the maximum speed of the cars is only 60km/h it also only be approved to drive on certain public roads.
Currently, the smallest cars available on the Japanese market are K-cars, like the Suzuki Alto, with a 660cc engine.
Strangely, the government will be relaxing safety standards of the 125cc ultra-minis, compared to the 660cc mini cars, in return for restricting their use from freeways.
Ultra-mini cars must be 3.4 meters or less in length and 1.48 meters or less in width – the same dimensions of a mini-car. But cars less than 1.3 meters in width may be authorized to have brake performance equal to a motorbike.
The ministry has also said that an ultra-mini car driven only on roads with a speed limit of 30km/h or less is not required to have seatbelts.
Manufacturers are hoping that these more relaxed rules will help speed up the development of the car, which will be primarily aimed at tourists and elderly people.
But with such lax safety standards, is there really much point in having an ultra-mini car over a scooter or taking the bus?