P.M. BRIEFING : Japanese Upgrade Mini-Vehicles

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

Japanese auto makers have started marketing mini-vehicles with upgraded standards, bolstering prospects for recovery of the mini-car market, industry sources said today.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Mazda Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Co. introduced new mini-vehicle models this month while their competitors, including Honda, said they will join the market later this month.

Their moves followed the introduction of new standards for mini-vehicles in January. Under the new specifications, the engine capacity for mini-vehicles was raised to 660 cc from the previous 550 cc and the overall length was extended to 10.8 feet from 10.5 feet.


“The number of customers purchasing mini-vehicles has been on the increase, particularly in urban areas, mainly because of parking problems,” a spokesman for Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said.

Japan’s car tax on mini-vehicles also is low, ranging from $27 to $48 per year, compared with $263 for cars over 1,000 cc engine capacity.