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Mini vehicles' prices surge in low inflation Japan

Christian Fernsby |
For low inflation-plagued Japan, mini vehicles offer a rare market that has seen a surge in prices over the past decade.

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Topics: JAPAN    VEHICLES   

The average price of mini vehicles with an engine displacement of 660 cc or less stood at ¥1.42 million ($13,400) as of July, up 36 percent from ¥1.04 million in 2009, according to recent data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The percentage increase far outstrips the 5 percent rise in the nationwide consumer price index from 2009 to 2018 and comes as the Bank of Japan has been struggling to meet its inflation target of 2 percent even with years of monetary easing measures.

The price surge reflects added costs of driving assistant equipment that customers are increasingly looking for. Devices such as radar, cameras and sensors are installed in more vehicles in recent years to keep a safe distance between cars, avoid collision and stop the vehicle eventually when necessary.

Demand for such equipment has picked up recently, partly as accidents caused by elderly drivers who erroneously stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake have attracted public attention, analysts said.

Still, the rising costs stemming from advanced safety features could dent demand from customers looking for inexpensive vehicles, they said.

Mini cars and mini trucks are popular among cost-conscious customers, in rural areas in particular, for their fuel-efficiency and lower tax levies.

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