RightHandDrive.ca/blog Canadian Right Hand Drive News and Thoughts


Kei cars coming to North America as Smart Car Killers?

There is the possibility! Clearly they would have to meet safety and North American standards (read: not as RHD), but it'd sure be neat! The car in question is the Mitsubishi i, which is actually bigger than the Smart ForTwo.  I really hope that they leave the engine as is, personally, since I feel that North American cars have more power than most people need!
Check out this Edmunds.com video if you are interested.



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Quebec Parliament RHD Petition – Sign now!

The Parliament of Quebec has released a petition to allow RHD cars back on the road in Quebec.  There is currently a moratorium on insuring new RHD cars on the road in Quebec. They have also put scooter-like regulations on Kei cars, like limiting speeds and limiting which roads Kei cars can drive on.

The signing does not seem to be a limited to people who live in Quebec.  There are both state/province and country fields... so sign!

My worry is that if Quebec bans RHD cars, the rest of Canada will follow.

Petition to lift the moratorium on Right Hand Drive Cars: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/petition/SignerEn.aspx?idPetition=118

Petition to lift the restrictions on Kei Cars: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/petition/SignerEn.aspx?idPetition=119

The fine print is in French, I've used babel fish to translate it for your convenience.

Text of RHD Petition

Text off the petition:

CONSIDERING THAT the access to the public ways in Quebec prohibited east, since April 29, 2009, with the majority of the vehicles provided with a wheel on the right, except for the 2.500 vehicles registered before this date;

CONSIDERING THAT this measurement does not form part of the recommendations of the Québécois Table of the road safety;

CONSIDERING THAT the European countries, Japan, the United States and the Canadian provinces never saw the need for prohibiting the traffic provided with a driver's cab on the side opposed to their national standards;

CONSIDERING THAT many new models, having the wheel on the left, are sold in Japan and the United Kingdom and that, in spite of the cohabitation of the two positions of control, that does not affect their assessments of road safety;

CONSIDERING THAT the recent study of the SAAQ does not take account of all the facts and, consequently, that its conclusion must be questioned;

CONSIDERING THAT the two decrees of the government, come into effect without notice, harmed considerably the businesses of the owners and importers of this type of vehicles; We, signatories of this petition, ask the National Assembly of Quebec to make pressure on the government so that are not prohibited on the right the imported, vehicles 15 years old and more, not provided with a driver's cab, and require that one take time to examine any change going in this direction within the framework of a parliamentary commission.


Text of Kei Car Petition

Note: Kei is interchangeable with 'light'

CONSIDERING THAT, under the terms of the ministerial decree 2009-15 of October 22, 2009, the vehicles known as “light” cannot circulate any more, and this since December 27, 2009, on the motorways of Quebec as any public way on which allowed maximum speed is of more than 70 km/h;

CONSIDERING THAT this restriction also applies to the owners having acquired of such a vehicle before the coming into effect of the known as ministerial decree;

CONSIDERING THAT there does not exist, in the road Error correcting code, of clear beacons allowing to determine the vehicles not offering enough protection for their occupants;

CONSIDERING THAT certain “light vehicles” answer security standards on the protection of their occupants;

CONSIDERING THAT the “light vehicles” offer more protection than the motor cycles and the auto-cycles;

CONSIDERING THAT the minister of Transport recently a pilot scheme aiming set up at reducing the requirements as regards driving licence for the motor cycle with three wheels “Spyder”, marketed by Bombardier;

CONSIDERING THAT the vehicles classified like antiques, not having been conceived to meet standards of protection of their occupants, do not have any access control to the public ways; We, signatories of this petition, ask l' National Assembly of Quebec to make pressure on the government so that the access to the public ways is not restricted for the “light vehicles” and let us ask that one take time to examine any change going in this direction within the framework of a parliamentary commission.


Consider signing.... tell your friends! Spread the word!


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Kei Vehicles

A somewhat new sight on North American roads are Kei class vehicles.  These vehicles come in many forms including trucks, vans and even cute little cars. They are cars that qualify for special insurance rates in Japan, much like scooters have in most provinces.  There are restrictions on the vehicle's height, length, weight, power and engine size.  Due to these restrictions the vehicles, especially the trucks, are quite utilitarian.  It's quite obvious why Japan would encourage the use of these vehicles in Japan.  Their emissions are minimal and they're small. If your country has a dense population like Japan the benefits are huge.

The really great things about these vehicles is the options.  Since they're so limited in so many ways the manufacturers have beefed them up in different ways.  Most of the trucks have options like Four Wheel Drive with diff lock. Some of the trucks have factory dump truck beds (which is ridiculous and amazing to watch) and... AM radios.  I listen to a lot of CBC now.

Kei Cars

Nissan Figaro

The cars are much less utilitarian, and easily the cutest vehicles on the road.  The Nissan Figaro is the prime example of this. It's the first right hand drive car I remember seeing.  It blew my mind in how it didn't look  like any car I'd ever seen in real life.  If Minnie Mouse drove a car in real life, this would be it. And that's not an insult. Honestly, I'm not sure if it's actually a Kei car, since it has a 1L engine, which is larger than the 660cc limit on Kei vehicles, but otherwise it meets the requirements. If it's not it deserves an honorable mention.

Honda Beat

One car that for sure meets the Kei restrictions is the Honda Beat.  A little convertible roadster that shows that a 660cc and 65hp limit doesn't mean it can't be flashy.  I've seen one of these booting around Winnipeg and was quite impressed.  It has the Civic styling with an inline 3 motor.  The engine is mounted behind the driver for a mid engine, rear wheel drive layout. Due to the mid engine mount the car has great weight distribution and fantastic handling. Just because it's a Kei car doesn't mean that it can't be excessively fun.

Kei Trucks

A mini truck

Daihatsu Hijet

This post wouldn't be complete without a photo of a minitruck.  Kei trucks are the workhorse of Japan.  They're small, goofy looking and amazing.  They can haul about as much as a 1/4 ton truck, can convert into a flatbed and many have four wheel drive. I drive mine (which is the photo) year round in Winnipeg.  The four wheel drive handles the Manitoban deep freeze handily.  The problem with the trucks is that they're geared down more than the cars.  I have a 4 speed in my truck and 100km/h is a bit of a chore. The five speeds are more capable of running at highway speeds. The road noise is an issue for some people. The road noise is pretty noticeable due to the (usually) mid mounted engine. It's right behind the driver and there is very little noise dampening material.  Apparently the Subaru Sambar is better than other mini trucks in this regard. It has a rear mounted 4 cylinder as opposed to a mid mounted 3 cylinder.  It apparently can do highway speeds handily and isn't too noisy to boot. Parts are the real issue with the (and all) Subarus.

Kei Vans

Mitsubishi Bravo

Mitsubishi Bravo

The last type of Kei vehicle is the micro van.  This name has always cracked me up since the trucks are called mini trucks but the vans are micro vans being that mini van was taken. These vans are basically the same as the trucks, sharing many components.  They often have four wheel drive with diff lock, just like the trucks. They have much more luxury features like power retracting glass roofs, power windows and nice upholstery  (which is very much lacking in the kei trucks).  I haven't heard if they are slow like the trucks, but I can only assume that they run about the same speeds as the trucks.


Here are the specifications that Kei vehicles must adhere to.

  • Maximum Length: 3.3 m
  • Maximum Width: 1.4 m
  • Maximum Height: 2 m
  • Maximum Engine Size: 660cc
  • Maximum Horsepower: 63 hp

As taken from Wikipedia, so take it as a grain of salt.
Kei cars are fun, different and hilariously fun. Kids point and laugh at my little red truck regularly since it looks like a big toy. And well, it is! And I love it for that. If you're looking for a right hand drive, don't overlook a Kei car as an option. If you're just booting around the city you can't go wrong.

For an incomplete list of Kei cars click here for Kei trucks click here and for Kei vans click here.



Right hand drive chat on Kijiji

I've been following this thread for a some time now.  Someone on Kijiji has been complaining about the "recent flood of japanese right hand drive vehicles" on Kijiji.  They go on to state that they are "dangerous and not to mention inconvenient in a left hand drive country"

Ok... has this person ever driven one? This argument is just full of holes, not to mention that it's the wrong place to bring up this argument.  I can't tell if this person is a troll and just looking to start an argument.

At any rate, the thread is worth a read if you're looking for a laugh at someone else's expense.



ps. I found my truck on Kijiji, and it is indeed a good place to look for right hand drives!

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