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Old 04-26-2013, 07:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Business idea: Would you buy a Kei car in the US?

Hi all,

I've been toying around with an idea I've had for a while. I have a "Kei Car", a Kia Morning diesel that does around 64 mpg US in the city and 72 on the freeway. It's a 1.1 liter K-spec (Korean market) car and is about the same size as my Suzuki Alto, so it's a "Kei car". Sure it's gutless, but come on...70 mpg. Haha.

If there were parts availability for these cars and they were available to purchase left hand drive ready to run, I personally think I would spring the cash for one in the U.S. My hometown is very packed and anything small like this would be a dream to have.

So I guess my question is, would you personally considering buying something like a Kia Morning diesel, or any other left hand drive Kei car if parts were available and they were 100% emissions legal?

Just seeing if there's any potential interest before I start doing more research on bring some Kei cars over....

Thanks,
Honda100

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Old 04-26-2013, 08:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I wouldn't disconsider to get either a Kei minivan, which have been imported into America to be used mainly by farmers altough not considered road-legal, or a Suzuki Jimny.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The problem is you can not register / insure them in most states. I'd buy one for off roading
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Old 04-27-2013, 02:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I guess what I was asking is that if I managed to get Kei cars to the states legally so that they could be registered, would you buy them.

Should have made it more clear. I have connections with the FMVSS side of things in my home state, so with my shop at home I could likely get permission to add structural modifications and safety features and then grease the cogs of the legislation to trust me and allow them to be imported as real cars and not off roaders. That was the idea, but then again, if no one would want to buy one, well....



Thanks for the input so far.
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Kei stuff was/is legal here. It has been harder to register than it used to be, but it can still be done. Sure there would be people that would want it, but once that niche gets filled you won't be selling anything. My opinion is that it would be a lot more work than it was worth if you wanted to make it profitable. And doesn't any used vehicle brought into the USA for resale from somewhere outside of North America have to be older than 15 years? Or is that just a Canadian thing?

Seeing as you are in Cambodia, and you want to import high FE vehicles to North America as a business, I have one word for you - Vespa.
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honda100 View Post
I have connections with the FMVSS side of things in my home state, so with my shop at home I could likely get permission to add structural modifications and safety features and then grease the cogs of the legislation to trust me and allow them to be imported as real cars and not off roaders.
Body-on-frame models such as the Mitsubishi Pajero Mini, Suzuki Jimny, and microvans like the Honda Acty, Daihatsu Hijet and Suzuki Carry would be easier to perform the modifications. But you would still need to basically make a whole re-engineering on the bodies. But it seems like the Jimny would have a greater market potential in America due to the absence of a real compact 4WD, which could appeal both to the ATV users due to the improved comfort and even to Wrangler owners who would want something smaller enought to have an improved maneuverability in confined spaces.
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Jimnys are cool! For anyone that doesn't know what one is, think an old school Suzuki Samurai, but with a 600cc, turbo engine! The problem with selling them here is simple though - as cool as they are, by the time you get one here, get the paperwork done, etc etc, the same person that would buy one wanting a cheap, fun, capable little 4x4 could just buy a beat up old Tracker/Sidekick for 1/3 of the price.
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Old 04-27-2013, 04:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by War_Wagon View Post
Seeing as you are in Cambodia, and you want to import high FE vehicles to North America as a business, I have one word for you - Vespa.
I WANT HONDA SUPERCUBS! Yes, I'm yelling.
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Old 04-27-2013, 05:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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^^^ Funny you should mention it, I have already brought my square lamp C90 over to the states. Gold, 88' electric start, it was the newest I could bring to bypass the EPA and FMVSS standards. Absolutely love it, way more character than a scooter.

Importation can be done effectively but it's very very hard to get right if you don't have the right stuff, i.e., a shop, cash, lots of friends who work for the government, etc. I have a shop, and friends, but cash....yeah. Wish I had more.

I've looked into importing the new Super Cub, but the problem with the new ones is that they have to pass tailpipe emissions and have DOT approved indicators. I'm not really in the mood at the moment to make a new set of indicators..but we'll see.

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