There was a time when the term ‘mini truck’ referred to the smaller half-ton Japanese pickup trucks like Toyota and Datsun. But times have changed, and the term mini truck has a whole new meaning.

Now the term mini truck means an even smaller vehicle variant that offers some of the most incredible engineering around. Companies like Suzuki and Mitsubishi have been building small 4-wheel drive trucks in Japan for many years. But only recently have they gained immense popularity in the United States.

Between the size of an ATV and a full-size Japanese pickup truck, these tiny vehicles can be one of the most useful tools a ranch, farm, or resort can own. They are truly a marvel of both incredible engineering and practical design.

japanese mini trucks they are also called Kei trucks. The term Kei means lightweight. And Japanese mini trucks or Kei class trucks really are lighter than most trucks on the road. Also, Kei trucks cost less and are much more fuel efficient. Many Japanese mini trucks will get 40-50 miles per gallon.

Kei trucks come in various configurations, including two- and four-wheel drive models, 5-speed manual or automatic transmissions, and many have heating and air conditioning.

Perhaps one of the most significant uses for Japanese Kei trucks or micro trucks is as a replacement for the standard ATV on the farm or ranch. The mini truck has advantages in several areas, including pure load-carrying capacity, utility value, and fuel economy. Although the ATV is smaller, its fuel economy is often much lower than the Japanese mini truck or Kei vehicle.

The engines in the Kei truck are often small gasoline-powered three-cylinder power plants, which have plenty of torque and acceleration. They are easy to work on, and maintenance and repair issues are usually very reasonable compared to any other vehicle on the market that fits that niche.

What about getting a Kei Truck license?

Some states allow the licensing of Japanese micro trucks or Kei vehicles for on-road use, while others do not. Most states recognize them as a farm or ranch type vehicle, just like an ATV would be recognized. Unlike ATVs, the Kei pickup is better suited for highway use with a power train and suspensions more like a typical pickup truck.

The Kei truck can be fitted with standard highway tires, or can easily be retrofitted with more ATV-style tires. This allows the Japanese mini truck to be used on some amazing rough terrain and still pull through.

Where to find a Japanese mini truck dealer

Kei truck dealers are sparsely distributed in the United States, and it was a bit difficult at first to find more information on these micro-wonders. Dan Buzzell in Western Colorado is a wealth of information on mini trucks. Contact him through the website


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