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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Traveling in Japan, Sapporo and Tokyo and saw a lot of sub-compact cars and even some that could be classified as micro cars. Saw only two Smarts, they were ForFours and they were gas powered. Went to the Japanese Smart website and it seems electric Smarts aren't offered here. I would have thought the ForTwo would be perfect for Tokyo, especially an EV as gas prices are extremely high.
 

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Another example of complete and utter incompetence at MB marketing. They did sell smart in Japan early on, but didn't "get" the local market. They even modified the smart to be classified as a kei-car, but it was too expensive, little advertised, and they gave up after a few years.
 

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I'd give them a pass with Japan. When it comes to kei cars and electrics, Japan almost universally goes for domestic products over imports.

So, when it comes to Japan smart is stuck in an even harder place than America. The fortwo cannot be classified as kei without trimming the car's size and neutering the engine...Then of course, the kei market isn't welcoming to imports. If they leave the fortwo as is they have an almost-kei car that offers neither the advantages of a kei car nor the advantages of a larger car.

Looks like smart's best bet for Japan is the forfour. :)

Now China's a curious case for smart. Like Japan, their local market is saturated with similar vehicles that are better fit for the needs of the demographics. However, China has a similar cultural thing like the US with status symbols.

Sure, you could get any one of the millions of domestic Androids available in China, but the iPhone is what everyone looks up to. You could get any random domestic luxury car, but if you want that "I've arrived" status, luxury import car brand. This is where smart came in and hit a home run. The brand's numerous China-only special editions (something else China loves) and the MB backing help propel smart's pretty bountiful China sales. :)
 
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The Japanese car manufactures, have the lead market on small cars. In its home land. Kei cars are everywhere. Vehicle Taxes are extremely high on the larger cars there. I have a good friend. Who worked for corporate Toyota. He said the Japanese people tend to trade in their vehicles every 3 years. They get bored of the styling. The kei styling and packaging, continually change. The smart car is large compared to some kei vehicles. Because of limit parking, EV outlets, would be near impossible to locate, and very costly to the customer.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone, now I know what to call all those tiny cars I've been seeing all over. I did spy another ForFour today but they are rare and in my opinion kind of ugly looking, not quirky and charming like the FourTwo. I have seen a few EV's, the Leaf and iMiev specifically but see way more hybrids.
 
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