Home » Why Rhode Island Is Harassing The 30 Last Owners Of Legally Imported Cars In Its State

Why Rhode Island Is Harassing The 30 Last Owners Of Legally Imported Cars In Its State

Rhode Island Kei Law
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Three years ago, America became a very different country for the lovers of vehicles imported from Japan. Maine, with the help of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, banned vehicles that were legally imported from Japan. The action caught like wildfire, with Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, and Texas, each imparting restrictions on JDM vehicle owners. Now, all of these years later, Rhode Island is still harassing the 30 or so enthusiasts in its state by demanding their registrations for their legally-imported vehicles. But, there is some hope on the horizon.

When we last checked in on the wave of import bans spreading across America, we reported a major victory down south. Texas became the first state to reverse the bans suggested by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) in 2021. To be clear, Texas isn’t the first state to overturn a Kei vehicle ban, but they are the first victory in the new era of Kei bans. Texas has proven that the AAMVA’s suggested policies can be beaten.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Unfortunately, other states haven’t been as lucky. Georgia’s enthusiasts have been pulling levers including a lawsuit and proposed legislation, yet, they’re still spinning their tires. Over in Maine, a bill to reverse the imported vehicle ban out there has effectively died, keeping the ban in place. Pennsylvania’s enthusiasts scored an early victory when the state allowed grandfathered-in existing Kei vehicle registrations.

S 8n Wdmcfnk
Cars & Bids Seller

Now, Rhode Island is back in the news again. The state was one of the first in 2021 to actively revoke the registrations of Kei vehicles. Weirdly, the state seemingly got distracted because it didn’t finish the job. Now, the state is coming after the registrations of everyone it forgot to snag in that first round.

To illustrate how silly this is, let’s go back to my original reporting in 2021.

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Where It Started

In the summer of 2021, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles kicked off this nightmare. It started when the owners of imported Mitsubishi Delicas in the state received letters from the state stating that the vans were “mini-trucks” that did not meet federal emissions and safety requirements. The consequence of this is that due to a new law, these vehicles were now off-road vehicles and could not be driven on the state’s roads. Initially, this caused confusion because the Mitsubishi Delica is far larger than the vehicles that fall under the Kei class. They certainly weren’t mini-trucks, either.

Photos Mitsubishi Delica 1990 1
Mitsubishi

Enthusiasts were further confused because ignoring all of that, these were vehicles that were older than 25 years old and thus were exempt from meeting Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

The state later clarified that it was a mistake to call the Mitsubishi Delica a Kei vehicle, but the classification didn’t matter because according to the spicy new law that was passed, any vehicle that wasn’t originally built to FMVSS is now banned regardless of its age. On June 15, 2021, the state amended its 29-A MRSA 354 statute to define an off-road vehicle thusly:

‘Off-road vehicle’ means a motor vehicle that, because of the vehicle’s design and, configuration, original manufacture or original intended use, does not meet the inspection standards of chapter 15, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s pollutant requirements or the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s crash testing standards and that is not a moped or motorcycle.

The bodies weren’t even cold in Maine before Rhode Island stepped in with its own ban. Back when I worked at Jalopnik, Chuck Whoczynski, host of the Revival Motoring podcast, revealed that Rhode Island was waging its own war against JDM vehicles. Thankfully, Rhode Island wasn’t targeting all JDM imports, but it was still casting a large net by banning all Kei-class imports. Whoczynski received a letter for his Honda Acty and his Daihatsu Mira TR-XX Avanzato and both letters stated that his vehicles were subject to having their registrations terminated.

Kei Letter 2
Chuck Whoczynski

The letters in 2021 quoted Rhode Island General Laws 31-2-2 and 31-2-15. Unlike Maine, Rhode Island didn’t pass a new law. Instead, Maine’s DMV decided to change its policies in a manner that leveraged existing laws. This is similar to how Texas used to ban Kei vehicles for years.

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Here are the Rhode Island General Laws in question:

§ 31-2-2 Subordinates and investigators. – The administrator of the division of motor vehicles shall appoint any subordinates that he or she may require for the proper performance of his or her duties. He or she shall appoint investigators who shall be empowered to investigate the application for any motor vehicle license or registration in order to ascertain the truth of the statements made in it, to seize or recover the license or registration certificate and number plates of any person whose license or registration shall have been suspended or revoked, and to perform any other duties not inconsistent with the law as the administrator may direct.

§ 31-2-15 Seizure of documents and plates. – The division of motor vehicles is authorized to take possession of any registration card, permit, license, or registration plate issued by it upon expiration, revocation, cancellation, or suspension, or which is fictitious, or which has been unlawfully or erroneously issued.

Ri Kei Letter
Chuck Whoczynski

Now, you’ll notice that neither of these laws has anything to do with Kei vehicles. Instead, these laws state that DMV and its investigators have the power to cancel registrations and seize license plates. Where Kei vehicle owners are running into an issue is with the fact that according to R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-1-3 Types of vehicles, Kei vehicles aren’t on the list at all. Likewise, under R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-3-5 Grounds for refusal of registration, the state can claim that since Kei vehicles were never built for FMVSS, they can state “That the vehicle is mechanically unfit or unsafe to be operated upon the highways.”

When I reported on this issue back in 2021, that was the logic the state used to remove Kei vehicles from its roads. They were never built to American standards and thus they were deemed to be “unsafe” for Rhode Island’s roads.

Wallpapers Honda Acty 1994 1
Honda

Unfortunately, the states reserve the right to dictate what vehicles travel on their roads. When you import a car that’s older than 25 years old, you’re just getting the federal government’s blessing that it can be in the country. Whether it can drive on the road is not up to the federal government, but the state you’re registering the vehicle in. That’s part of what’s causing this headache.

Back in 2021, I wrote that Rhode Island’s enforcement of its new policy was scattershot. Some people were forced to cancel their registrations right away while others were put into an indefinite holding pattern. Then, it seemed the state sort of forgot about it for a while. Now, the state is back with a vengeance.

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Rhode Island Ramps Back Up

Autozam Az 1 1992 Photos 1
Autozam

Earlier this month, WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island reported that the state was back on the warpath of removing Kei vehicles from its roads. As of writing, there are about 30 Kei vehicles in the state and Rhode Island is demanding for them to be taken off of the state’s roads. Some of these vehicles have been registered for several years, predating when Rhode Island changed its policies in 2021. From WPRI-TV:

The DMV defines Kei vehicles as “primarily mini-trucks manufactured for the Japanese market designated as ‘kejidosha’ light weight vehicles.” The vehicles typically weigh around 1,500 pounds and max out at speeds of around 75 miles-per-hour, if that.

According to the DMV, Kei vehicles were never manufactured in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Even so, the mini trucks Federally legal to import into the United States provided the vehicles are at least 25 years old or older. It’s currently the choice of each individual state whether or not the Kei vehicles are allowed on public roads.

[…]

The DMV said the mini-antique trucks aren’t safe and pose a danger to those driving them, as well as members of the public. Other antique vehicles are “grandfathered” because they met U.S. safety standards at the time they were manufactured, the DMV noted.

The new letters being sent out by the state are confirmed by state Senator Louis DiPalma, who says his constituents are now stuck in a tricky situation.

The frustrating part, as WPRI-TV and Sen. DiPalma point out, is that Rhode Island’s Kei vehicle owners, much like the JDM car owners in all of these states, did the right thing. They made sure they were getting a vehicle that was older than 25 years old and some of them even asked their respective DMVs about registration before purchase. They didn’t buy these vehicles until they got green lights across the board. Now–and for some several years later–these enthusiasts are being told that their vehicles are unsafe and must be removed from the road. Yet, these same DMVs have no issue registering Ford Model Ts and motorcycles. It’s a cruel taste of irony.

This new rush to cancel registrations has led to a strange battle where really nobody truly wins.

Lawmakers Fight Back, But Not Enough

Wallpapers Honda Vamos 1970 1
Honda

On March 1, 2024, Bill S 2693 was introduced in the state Senate by Senator Louis DiPalma with help from State Representative Michelle McGaw. The bill seeks to grandfather in every Kei vehicle that was registered in Rhode Island as of August 1, 2021. Those vehicles would once again become legal to drive on Rhode Island’s roads. Likewise, the state would, by law, be barred from revoking the registrations of these vehicles. Owners would be able to breathe easy knowing they could renew their plates.

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While this isn’t as big of a win as Texas got, it’s something! All major automotive news sources that have reported on this thus far have left their reporting at that. But I actually read the bill and I see a major red flag that nearly sours the whole bunch. Let’s go through S 2693. It starts great enough, with Sen. DiPalma seeking to add a section to § 31-1-3 Types of vehicles:

(hh) “Kei car” or “Kei truck” means every motor vehicle of the keijidōsha class of imported
vehicles, including, but not limited to, mini-trucks, microvans and Kei cars imported pursuant to
49 U.S.C. § 30112(b)(9), having four (4) wheels, an engine displacement of six hundred sixty cubic
centimeters (660cc) or less, an overall length of one hundred thirty inches (130″) or less, an overall
height of seventy-eight inches (78″) or less, and an overall width of sixty inches (60″) or less.

If passed, this would mean that Kei vehicles would legally become a type of vehicle in Rhode Island, which is great. Things start coming off of the rails with the proposed change to § 31-3-5 Grounds for refusal of registration:

(10) That the vehicle is a “Kei car” or “Kei truck”. Provided, however, that the registrant
of any “Kei car” or “Kei truck” which was validly registered as of August 1, 2021, shall not be
denied renewal of that registration based solely on the vehicle type; and further, provided that, any
such registrations shall not be permitted to be transferred. “Kei cars” or “Kei trucks” shall be
prohibited from operation on limited access highways, state highways, or through highways as
defined in § 31-1-23 or on any public highway or roadway with a speed limit of more than thirty14 five miles per hour (35 mph). Nothing in this subsection, however, shall be construed to prohibit a
“Kei car” or “Kei truck” from crossing a public highway at an intersection where the public highway
to be crossed has a posted speed limit between thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph) and forty-five
miles per hour (45 mph); provided the public highway the “Kei car” or “Kei truck” is traveling on
and the public highway the “Kei car” or “Kei truck” is crossing the intersection toward both have a
speed limit no higher than thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph) and the intersection is controlled by
traffic signals or stop signs

That’s a lot of text, but it starts off great by saying that the state could no longer ban Kei vehicles that were registered as of August 1, 2021 based solely on vehicle type.

Then it dives straight into limiting where Kei vehicles can go. The bill pushes for Kei vehicles to be banned from limited-access highways, which I suppose is fair enough since you’ll encounter speeds that many Kei vehicles cannot go. But then it goes on to ban Kei vehicles from state highways, through highways, and any public road with a speed greater than 35 mph.

344c32be9ebd08de7e784ac3829bcf71 (1)
Mercedes Streeter

To put that in layman’s terms. My Honda Beat is faster with a higher top speed than four of my five Smart Fortwos, yet Rhode Island’s lawmakers want to treat it like a golf cart. Legalizing Kei vehicles is great! Kneecapping them to speeds no greater than 35 mph is not. I wouldn’t have bought either of my Kei imports if I was limited to 35 mph. If my state enacted such a law, I couldn’t even take my Kei vehicles out of the garage.

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So, while I applaud Sen. DiPalma and Rep. McGaw on fighting for Kei owners, this doesn’t go far enough. Kei vehicles are road vehicles, not golf carts!

Yet, despite how weak this proposed legislation is, the DMV isn’t happy about it. As reported by Hemmings, the Rhode Island DMV sent a letter of its own in response to the bill. From Hemmings: “The DMV has made efforts over the last several years to prevent any additional registration of these vehicles… There are, however, a handful that still remain registered, and the proposed bill would restrain the DMV’s ability to further eliminate unsafe vehicles from the public roadways of the state.”

For those of you not following this saga, let’s go back to the AAMVA, because this is the organization that started it all. I’ve written so much about the AAMVA, so I’ll keep it short:

Aamva Edit

 

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The AAMVA is a non-governmental non-profit lobbying organization composed of motor vehicle administrators, law enforcement administrators, and executives from all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, and Washington D.C. Among other things, the organization seeks standardization of laws across member states regarding traffic safety, vehicle titling, and driver licensing. AAMVA does not have legislative power but it does urge all member states to follow its “best practices.”

The AAMVA has been studying Japanese and Chinese Kei vehicles since at least the late 2000s. Back then, the AAMVA didn’t really know how to handle the flood of cheap 25 mph speed-limited off-road utility trucks that came in from China. The answer came courtesy of an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety opinion published in 2010. The IIHS crash-tested a Kei truck against a Ford Ranger and concluded that low-speed vehicles and mini trucks are unsafe and should be removed from the road.

From that point forward, the AAMVA has advocated against allowing Kei trucks from being allowed on state roads. In 2021, this guidance went even further, essentially telling states to ban any vehicle that doesn’t meet FMVSS. The AAMVA was serious about this, stating in its documentation that if banning a vehicle ran afoul state law, it urged lawmakers to change the laws until the ban became legal.

1989 Suzuki Alto Works For Sale
Retro-Sect

The AAMVA’s 2021 guidance is its most destructive. In the past, the AAMVA focused just on Kei trucks and suggested that states ban them. Some states followed the suggestions. However, you were still able to import bigger vehicles. The AAMVA’s latest guidance advises states to remove any and all vehicles that don’t meet FMVSS. It’s a dagger into the hearts of anyone who has ever wanted to import forbidden fruit. You could have the safest vehicle ever built in Japan or Europe and the AAMVA wouldn’t want it.

Sadly, three years after the new guidance, only the enthusiasts in Texas have something to celebrate. If you live in Maine, Rhode Island, or the other aforementioned states, it seems like you’re being punished for having done what you thought was the right thing. It may even seem wild that your state is also actively giving up tax money.

So, that’s where America is sitting with imported vehicles at the moment. Despite the pushback, the Rhode Island bill has passed the Senate. Now it sits with state Representatives. While it’s not a Texas-sized win, it would still be something and potentially a foot in the door for lawmakers to open up rules further.

We have reached out to the AAMVA in multiple instances. We have not received correspondence in return as of publishing.

Correction: The original version of this article included Virginia on the list of states with active JDM bans. A deeper search reveals that Virginia does not ban JDM vehicles, but restricts Kei vehicles from roads with speeds greater than 55 mph.

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Gnarsinski
Gnarsinski
23 days ago

Funny that RI just passed a law legalizing Slow Moving Electric Vehicles on all roads with speed limits 35mph and under. On the major island in Rhode Island, Aquidneck Island, that’s just about every road on the island. Unfortunately the vehicles (golf carts) that meet the requirements of the law end up costing 15-20k. I bought my electric car (e-Golf) for only 12k.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
23 days ago

Hmm… Many of these States are bastions of the ineptitude from the Left.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
25 days ago

I’m glad that Pennsylvania still lets people register Kei trucks as antiques, which does allow you to drive them legally on the street. I’m planning on purchasing one in the next year or so to primarily use as an ATV/snowplow/and mower, but it would be mega convenient to also drive it on the street occasionally.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
23 days ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Are you sure about that? I was told, by someone who should know, that they are only legal as Farm Use vehicles in PA.

JumboG
JumboG
25 days ago

Meanwhile in NC we’ve got ATVs and side-by sides that look like spiders because the body sits so high off the ground that are apparently now legal to drive on the road (along with golf carts.)

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
23 days ago
Reply to  JumboG

And it’s bullshit.

Steve Kilpatrick
Steve Kilpatrick
25 days ago

I live in RI. Outright banning these vehicles, while allowing motorcycles and antique cars of other manufacturers (Citroen, etc) to still travel these roads is ridiculous. It’s a real shame they couldn’t work on something else, like enforcing laws on window tint…

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
25 days ago

So has anybody asked why AAMVA has decided that they are the fun police? What’s wrong with those killjoys?

Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
Along with Martin, Dutch Gunderson, Lana and Sally Decker
25 days ago

The AAMVA has been studying Japanese and Chinese Kei vehicles since at least the late 2000s. Back then, the AAMVA didn’t really know how to handle the flood of cheap 25 mph speed-limited off-road utility trucks that came in from China. The answer came courtesy of an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety opinion published in 2010. The IIHS crash-tested a Kei truck against a Ford Ranger and concluded that low-speed vehicles and mini trucks are unsafe and should be removed from the road.

So it is pretty much exactly what I suggested in an earlier article, that they’re basing their best practices on the restrictions applied to Kei vehicles imported for off-road use only going back to the 90s.

In the eyes of the regulators, if one of those “off-road use only” vehicles that has been here all along doesn’t become road-legal at the 25-year mark, something the same age but imported last week shouldn’t either.

Shinynugget
Shinynugget
25 days ago

By the logic of these DMV’s all cars designed or built before the passing of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The first of which came in 1967. So goodbye to all those ‘classic’ cars on the road. It’s not like cars got significantly safer in the next few years after that passing of that act. Early 70’s cars crash test horribly.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
23 days ago
Reply to  Shinynugget

Your point is irrelevant.

The cars ‘mentioned’ built before ’67 / FMVSS were primarily built in America, or built for the American market… (Looking at you, VW, Toyota, Datsun, Renault, etc…)

Andy Farrell
Andy Farrell
25 days ago

My question is why nobody seemingly has asked the DMVs in these states why the kei cars are unsafe but classic trucks and muscle cars are not (for example).

Jay Vette
Jay Vette
25 days ago
Reply to  Andy Farrell

Their reasoning seems to be that kei vehicles were never built to any US safety standards, but other vehicles that were originally sold here were, at least at the time of their manufacture.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
25 days ago
Reply to  Jay Vette

Even the vehicles that were built prior to 1967 FMVSS are still allowed on the public road?

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
23 days ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

Yes, because those vehicles were built in America, or built overseas for the American market…

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
25 days ago
Reply to  Andy Farrell

And that is why I’ve been following the kei car registration debacle so closely, even though I’m not in the market for a kei car (even though they’re pretty darn cute). The language used to prevent registration in so many states wouldn’t take much twisting to be applied to classic vehicles, or even slightly older ones like I drive sometimes.

Space
Space
25 days ago

Thank you for keeping up the good fight and keeping everyone informed Mercedes.

Cal67
Cal67
25 days ago

30 cars? The entire population is at risk. RI could become a ghost state with no population if these cars are not eliminated immediately. Think of the children!

EXL500
EXL500
26 days ago

Thankfully we don’t have this issue in Florida yet. That could change if our beloved governor confuses kei with gay.

Instead we are having Freedom Summer, where all bridges may only be lit in red white and blue from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Of course, it’s a coincidence that Gay Pride colors have graced our bridges in June for many years.

Our little Florida town will be festooned with Pride flags starting June 1. Thanks for islands of blue (lavender?). Can’t wait to hug the mayor…as usual.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
26 days ago
Reply to  EXL500

I love how “freedom summer” doesn’t include the freedom to light our bridges in festive colors. Funny how fickle that “freedom” thing is these days.

EXL500
EXL500
25 days ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

Indeed.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
25 days ago
Reply to  EXL500

Based. (your town, not ronnie boy.)

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
25 days ago
Reply to  EXL500

These gay cars are indoctrinating our youth. We have to protect the children! – Meatball Ron

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
26 days ago

I can see how they would be very concerned with the shocking number of Kei vehicles present in the state. Thirty whole people trying to have a perfectly capable car because they want it? Unprecedented. Seems like a good time to set up a small side business in Montana.

Theoretics
Theoretics
26 days ago

They’re not illegal in PA despite all the doom and gloom. They just can’t be registered as unrestricted transportation or used for commercial purposes. You have to register them as an antique (anything over 25 years old) and only use it for “occasional” transportation, which means no more than one day a week on road use. (Pinky promise.)

Crappy? Yea. It also has the potential to make a mess of things if you buy something else on exemption. But I doubt many people are going to daily a Kei truck. It’s also a bit problematic that antique requires them to be unmodified, not that anyone is going to stop you and evaluate unless you’re being a knob.

A couple of my neighbors use them as personal farm/plow trucks. Which is pretty cool.

https://prddmv.pwpca.pa.gov/Pages/Mini-Trucks-FAQ.aspx

https://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pacode?file=/secure/pacode/data/067/chapter67/chap67toc.html

As for RI, I’d still think there are bigger fish to fry but whatever. It’s only like 25 miles and a PO box to register it somewhere else.

Last edited 26 days ago by Theoretics
Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
25 days ago
Reply to  Theoretics

Local governments in PA probably use them for parking enforcement. It would be funny is the PA DMV revoked a county’s registration!

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
25 days ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Don’t be silly, if that happened you know that the government would be able to keep their kei cars while everyone else gets screwed. Rules for thee, not for me

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
25 days ago
Reply to  Theoretics

PA would have an interesting day if they banned vehicles from the roads that weren’t built to FMVSS, imagine the reaction if the Mennonite community the first few times you pull over a biggie.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
25 days ago
Reply to  Theoretics

Yep, I am quite pleased that I can still register as an antique and pinky promise to not daily drive it. Just like I pinky promise not to daily my antique registered Austin Healey Sprite in PA. I’ve never had someone give me any question for driving the Sprite anywhere as frequently as I want, and it is arguably far less safe than a 99 Kei trucks.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
23 days ago
Reply to  Theoretics

State DMV laws usually require you to register the vehicle at your main place of residence…

Theoretics
Theoretics
23 days ago
Reply to  Sivad Nayrb

Odd how many supercars belong to LLCs in Montana and trailers were registered in Maine though isn’t it?

Technically you’re correct, but it’s not hard to get around that for something you only drive occasionally.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
26 days ago

Louis DiPalma is a state senator? He’s come a long way from being the dispatcher on “Taxi.”

Also, Rhode Island is such a dinky state you’d think it would be mandating Kei-sized vehicles rather than banning them.

Goof
Goof
25 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Jokes aside, Rhode Island actually isn’t dense. If you go to a place like Warwick, it is stroad city with zero concept of pedestrians. Providence has some actual density (10-11K per mi2), but outside of that you’re driving down old undivided pre-federal Interstates that are 1, 2 or 3 lanes wide in each direction for most of where you’re going.

Mike B
Mike B
26 days ago

So glad my state is focusing on the important issues. The state is full of deficient bridges, roads that are barely fit for motor vehicles, a housing crisis in which NO towns are affordable for the average earner, a struggling economy, and on and on.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
25 days ago
Reply to  Mike B

It’s obnoxious.

We’re having the same problems here in Florida and the answer to housing affordability was to waive impact fees and permit developers to build what they want whereever. It’s still expensive and out of step for wages around here.

Now, two-lane roads planned in the 70s for 500 cars/week are turning into potholed parking lots because the apartment complexes in the middle of nowhere with no grocery stores and schools nearby create a need for these new residents to drive…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
26 days ago

I’m in Virginia—as is Duncan Imports. I had not heard the the state restricted Kei cars, nor can I find any references to that in a quick search.

Care to clarify?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
26 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Looking a little deeper, did you perhaps mean West Virginia?

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
26 days ago

In Maryland, I believe it is against the law to drive your vehicle on any road where it is not capable of exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph. I think this is the right approach. A Kei car is not meant to be on fast highways where they aren’t capable of maintaining the speed limit. Neither are horses and buggies or mopeds. If it was just an issue of danger to the occupant of the Kei car, I’d say do what you like, but the speed differential can cause danger to occupants of any vehicle involved in a crash. I think banning these vehicles from all roadways is serious overstep though. If they really want to hide behind safety standards, why aren’t they calling for a ban on horse and buggies, motorcycles, etc.?

So, since we know it’s not a safety issue and there are better ways of dealing with slow vehicles than banning them, what’s the real reason they are pushing for these bans?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
26 days ago

Except many kei vehicles are capable of exceeding that speed – an early 90s Alto Works has a top speed of 92mph, for instance, and Maryland’s highest speed limit is 70. Even a Subaru Sambar with the Clover 4-cylinder theoretically tops out at around 81, and might therefore technically meet that standard (though whether it’s actually a good idea to try to push one of those so far over 70 for any length of time is a different question)

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
26 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

That’s why I think Maryland has it right. Since it can exceed the speed limit by 10 mph, it’s allowed on the highway. I would guess (no personal experience) that a Kei van would have a significantly lower to speed and it would then be legally limited as to what highways it could drive on. It would be debatable whether the Geo Metro I had in the 90’s would be allowed on the interstate in MD. I had it up to 85 from time to time, but only downhill with a tail wind.

Joe L
Joe L
25 days ago

I would also be highly amused to have the folks at the DMV have me take my JDM import and prove that it can go ten over the limit before they give me a registration sticker.

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
25 days ago
Reply to  Joe L

And probably hand you a speeding ticket with it! Because that’s the way government agencies work!

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