A Lada 4x4 costs less than that brand new in Russia. Road legal, standard car top speed. Known as a very reliable car. Why can't I buy a really cheap car in the United States?
edit: also the lada 4x4 is possibly the coolest car i've ever seen, in it's own unique way. I would do anything to import one, but it's not legal.
I have a 1990 Subaru Sambar pickup truck  imported from Japan that is street legal and registered in Washington state. It’s probably only a tiny bit safer than a motorcycle because it has seatbelts. Maybe cancelled out by the fact that I don’t wear a helmet while driving it.
You can get them for $3K - 5K depending on condition and they are excellent little city trucks that get fantastic fuel economy. Getting used to the right-side drive and shifting left handed wasn’t so bad. The hard part is the blinkers and windshield wipers are swapped!
Plus, there is some kind of loophole out there for some of the quads out there (well, at least here in Arizona - we play kinda fast and loose with such I guess), like the CanAm vehicles; I see them licensed and tagged and going down the road all the time here in sand land.
Then again, that re-issue of the Jeep from India can't be sold and driven on road legally - even here in AZ:
The bed size is 6.5 feet long and 4.5 feet wide. That's the same length as the Ford F150 bed, and the same width between the wheel wells. They are rated for 350kg (770 lbs) but you can go up to 450kg if it's well distributed.
I am an amateur carpenter and haul wood around the Seattle area in it all the time. It's absolutely perfect for this use case. It sips gas, too. Gets 30 mpg city 50 highway.
For example, here is a big one in southern WA: https://www.nwminitrucks.com/inventory/active
And here is where I got mine in Seattle: http://sodo-moto.com/in-stock/?shipment=in-stock&body-style=...
I think it appeals to some in the same way that classic muscle cards do or did. Most people I knew that owned and or "restored" (using that term loosely) these cars when I was young were much less interested in being historically accurate, and much more interested in putting their own touch on them. It's a method of self expression and displaying your identity, and one that's approachable to those that are sometimes much shyer about doing so in other manners.
I speak as someone whose first car was a 1967 Mustang, and whose second was a 1973 240Z, but who now happily splits my driving time between a Toyota Camry and Honda Odyssey. I sometimes entertain the idea of starting a project car again, but with so many other projects to choose from, I doubt I'll get to it any time in the next decade.
Most of those are only required to sell a new car; a car previously legally sold in the US (and maybe one sold after being legally imported by a consumer) doesn't need many of them, though it will have had to have met whichever were in place when it was first sold.
I know in Arizona if the car didn't originally come with seatbelts then you don't have to install them. Used to have a '53 Dodge that didn't have them and it was fine -- kind of freaked out my sister though...
We're talking Arizona. Here, you can get away with just about anything, and unless it's blatant, nobody really cares. Sometimes not even then.
So I started looking into it, and I found that that isn't even an all-Arizona thing. Municipalities decide their own light patterns. Some places even change the pattern from morning to night coincide with commutes.
I never did figure out if there were any safety or congestion benefits. I'm still shocked that that level of localism doesn't cause chaos.
My own dad backed over my tricycle.
Ever wonder why you only have automatic power windows on the drivers side? In the early sixties I had a second cousin strangled by one.
I have a van without out a back up camera, I'm slightly terrified of backing up because of small scampering children and short Asian grandma's. I've noted balloon cross overs have the same problem.
I think at least part of it is feeling unsafe in a sedan with these giant trucks around you.
There also might be a uniquely American affection for that type of vehicle and the image that goes with it, as well as a ignorance for climate concerns. More often than not when I see a vehicle with a American flag on it it's a pickup and certainly never a Prius.
And the EU has demonstrated ignorance for actual air pollution. Their obsession for CO2 reduction has resulted in some of the worst air quality. Particulate and NO pollution is far more dangerous to human health than CO2. In trying to “save the world,” Europe has managed to poison itself through years of misguided policy objectives.
It seemed to me that when I visited Australia many people drove smaller variations of the pickup. I’m not sure why they do not have full size pickups but, if they were a financially viable option, it seemed like they would sell extremely well there. Point is, a pickup is super convenient. US just seemed to be the place where cost, affluence, and utility hit the sweet spot and they sell like crazy.
Since most people are not buying a 35k+ vehicle with cash money, instead taking out loans, they are required by the bank to carry expensive full coverage insurance on top of the state-mandated liability insurance - and generally a more expensive vehicle will have more expensive insurance, since a tota loss requires a higher payout.
Gas prices in the US are lower than in many countries, but there are state and federal excise taxes, generally (nominally) used to fund road maintenance. Combining a large tank with long commutes and poor gas mileage, it’s not uncommon for people to be spending $200 (with the current low prices) a month per vehicle on gas. This is a significant fraction of post tax income for most Americans.
Americans are spending a ton of money on large vehicles. They know they’re spending a ton of money on them. For whatever reason, they really think it’s worth it.
That car makes sense in some areas of Russia (or similar countries). While it's unreliable, usually it's easy to repair and spare parts are very cheap, so for some people it's not a big problem. With its 4x4 drive, excellent geometry and low weight you can drive over very bad terrain and that's important in some rural areas in Russia. And of course it's dirt cheap, so for low income buyers it's much more practical choice than spend 5x money on some brand.
I have no idea about US, but honestly I don't think that many of those advantages would apply there. Also I've certainly saw those cars in US, you probably can find one in second hand market. It might be called Niva.
Edit: all in all, I prefer a diesel Hilux and/or suitably old Landcruiser for the offroad duties. Going anywhere on a highway is a pain in either Niva.
1. Higher government regulations. This includes safety as well as emission regulations.
2. Actual implementation of those regulations. In many countries as I know regulations are routinely ignored and bribes are paid to keep quiet.
3. Contrary to what others might tell you American cars tend to be far more robust than most other countries. This is because Americans drive more and over longer distances and far too often.
4. There is no market for cheap cars in USA. That Lada 4x4 will not sell in USA at all with its mere 1.6L engine and 90 Mph max speed.
Of course if Lada had to slightly rebrand and market its car as "non-road vehicle" they might sell for the $7000k. Mahindra from India did the same and they have been selling their mini jeep for <$10k.
The only vehicle I'd like to own more than that one is a re-release of the M274 Mule:
That's a really cool bit of design! The minimalist make-do-with-what-you've-got philosophy is so different from today's ways of designing military gear.
Ah, the military golf cart. I'm sure you can get a used one? Also you might be interested in its direct Soviet counterpart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LuAZ-967 (or the civilian variants like 1302)
On the other hand in Europe you can buy a new Dacia Sandero for under 7000 euros. It comes with power steering, front electronic windows, heating, airbags and 4/5 safety rating.
Average Russian's buying power vs US one. Plus, USA demands a lot more, and it can afford it. If your family dies in the car crash anyone from the tire to the glass maker will be sued.
You're right about John Deere Gator being overpriced.
If mass produced, there's no reason why Chinese (or others) can't build something of comparable quality for $3k.
edit: What i'm trying to say is, why is a fully functional car (even with bad crash safety and emissions) cheaper outside the United States than a golf cart is here? The answer seems obvious to me. Making it illegal to import cars has stifled competition and hurt consumers in the US.
Also, you are comparing two different spectrums. Maybe compare against very good farm equipment in Russia?
My farming background says "John Deer == artificially (and insanely) expensive maintenance". I've always equated JD with just being one of the biggest players, not necessarily a reflection of good quality.
You've been fortunate with your tractors. IME, even "quality" brands like Deere and IH often have infuriating issues for which one eventually learns to compensate. It's good to talk to a few people before buying anything. My dad has a guy he always calls who owns a tractor auction, and can be trusted to tell the truth about different models.
Ceteris paribus, I would just get a Kubota.
Because Lada 4x4 has a much higher top speed it is has the potential for much more serious accidents.
In 2002 the Lada Niva was awarded zero stars out of a possible four by the modern Russian ARCAP safety assessment program.
Has there been any word whether the international versions also provide "analytics" for its drivers?
Thank you for these articles!
The figures are from 2013, so very out of date, but for the UK (where I live) it is 5.1 road fatalaties per 100,000 motor vehicles. For the US it is 12.9, and for China 104.5. I think that shows pretty starkly that the reason we are paying so much more for our cars is for a massively higher chance of surviving an accident.
Modern American and European cars may have a positive impact on the fatality rate, but the numbers above don't prove it in any way. I suspect the local culture of driving and the legal policy explain most of the differences between these rates.
BTW, when walking or riding a bicycle, I'd rather get hit by a 20 year old average car than a modern SUV.
Local culture has a huge impact. Adherence to seatbelt laws, tolerance of drunk driving etc vary massively.
> BTW, when walking or riding a bicycle, I'd rather get hit by a 20 year old average car than a modern SUV
I'm not 100% sold on that - modern safety ratings like Euro NCAP also rate injuries to pedestrians so the hoods of modern vehicles are designed to give way. Some cars (e.g. Volvo) even go as far as to have active hoods - "Sensors in the bumper detect when a pedestrian has been struck and actuators lift the bonnet to provide greater clearance to stiff structures in the engine compartment"
You might also not even get hit in the first place thanks to AEB systems.
Been there, done that and it still hurts.
Though...it does turn out that learning how to do a proper parachute landing fall in the army is directly applicable to civilian life and distracted drivers.
To the extent that the cars are replacing scooters, they are an unmitigated benefit, safety wise.
That means this version has some more safety features than the the base model in China, which could explain why it costs more than 3x outside China.
Yeah, this has to be more than just western-market markup:
>> Kaiyun will start selling its “Pickman” electric pickup in the US, Germany, and Italy as soon as next month. The base Chinese model sells for 16,800 yuan ($2,500). The US version will start at $8,950, Fox News reports.
Sorry, think I'm missing something here... How does the Twizy look like a human?
An example would be staying in a hotel for a while, then again in a different room that looks identical. (At least, that creeps me out, I start feeling like the room isn't really attached to the rest of the world.)
They are legal in 46 states currently, on streets with a speed limit <= 35mph. Some towns have more restrictive laws as well.
Every generation of electric cars is such a big improvement over the previous one, especially in terms of range and fast charging, that the resale value of the old ones is unusually low.
When we end up replacing it, I may consider doing a battery swap instead. The dealer told me that you can swap the battery for about $7K. I'm wondering if it will be possible to upgrade things for a reasonable cost in 5 years time. I've been looking at the new e+ leafs and I think the form factor for the batteries is the same, so potentially you just need to swap out the batteries and replace the power management unit. Whether that's even possible, I don't know.
Either way, if we can replace this car in 5 years with a car made 3 years from now, then I think we'll still be quite a bit ahead of the game compared to buying a new car.
I was a bit nervous about going EV, but it's been a couple of months now and I've had literally no problems at all. Now sure how well it would work in many places in NA, but here in Japan, I've been very surprised about how convenient it has been. Doing our first real road trip next month, though. We'll see how it goes ;-)
This is especially true today because the used cars didn't have that much range to begin with, but I suspect that will still be true when the current 300-mile cars are replaced with 400-mile or 500-mile cars. People want a lot more range than they actually need.
For what it's worth I had the choice to pay a bit more to get a different Leaf that had a new battery (replacement under warranty). Given that I don't drive much (6 mile commute), I figured a slightly healthier battery is probably not going to be as useful to me, and the car/battery will deteriorate from age before mileage is as much a factor.
However, that 28 MpH maximum speed is a legitimate limitation/problem, even on my under 10 mile commute, there's at least two roads that are 40 MpH (people drive 45 MpH), and I'm going to get honked at if I can barely maintain 28 MpH.
I like the price and concept... But that max speed is a deal breaker. It will be interesting to see what cost a freeway model is.
I just don't see it, the "upscale" neighborhood adjacent to us is replete with golf carts and most of those are electric, but they have wide sidewalks to support them as the rules do not allow them on road ways.
Edit: I so badly want a green, cheap vehicle for my commute and ideally a solution for first and last mile public transit connection. My own i-Road and rentable ones for public transit connection would be amazing. Only problem might be the huge pickups with their brutish drivers everywhere in the US.
I don't like that price point at all. With $9k you can get a much better vehicle that has far more utility.
I would expect these electric cars would probably compete with these smaller models in dense urban areas.
Americans are car connoisseurs similar to how the French are food and drink connoisseurs. Tread carefully.
Everything here is a huge, gas guzzling SUV, or a Ford F150 truck.
Americans don't care about road feel/driving mechanics, artistic or elegant design. They want a huge and loud car to show other people how much better they are than them. Ideally, the bigger and louder and more brash, the better.
This is a country that came up with "rolling coal" for god's sake.
This is the problem with cars: you can't get one for just 3 seasons.
I can bike on those nice fall days when everything is easy. (I can bike on those hot summer days but it isn't as fun)
They fill an important gap although I personally believe that electric bikes are a far better match particularly for the 16 year old kids who drive those things around.
Basically I'd feel much safer driving in the UK if Prince Philip was behind the wheel of one of these instead of the mobile tank that he drives ;)
I'm really surprised the Japanese mini-trucks havn't taken off in the USA. They would be great for busy city streets where parking and space could be problematic. They also don't cost very much (used 5k USD).
There was a small boom for importing them to use as farm trucks, but you can't import them until they are 25 years old if you want to drive them on the road. Most other countries have less restrictive import requirements, so they tend to go to those countries first. Not many left by the time they get to 25 years old.
It's certainly better crash protection than a pedestrian, a bicycle, a moped, or a Segway which seems to be the competition.
Regardless, a bicycle moving at 25mph being hit head on by a car moving 25mph is going to be (at best) comparable to this thing getting hit at 25mph.
I guess it's just lead acid, tho? Must be heavy and low range. I'd love something like that with a J1772 plug so I can use my existing L2 EVSE
There are plenty ATV choices that fit but ones with high loading ratings are needed to support the car and the load.
A lot of used leafs are down to 60-80 miles of usable range, IIRC the average American commutes something like 15 miles each way, missing a charge or adding errands can put someone in a tight spot. And the weather in most American cities is 'extreme' - either winter is very cold (bad for battery range) or hot (bad for battery longevity in the leaf). My old city of minneapolis would have winter lows near -40 degrees C and would hit 38-40 degrees C every summer. That's very demanding for batteries.
America doesn't have a lot of charging infrastructure and unless you're a homeowner or live in a luxury apartment or work at a tech company or a company with an i.t competency, it's probably going to be hard to charge regularly.
Our cheap gas erodes the cost advantages of electric, you can find priuses (a Toyota hybrid) for $3k in any major city and that's going to give an electric car a serious run for its money in energy costs.
Individual buyers should be free to choose how much safety they want in their vehicles vs. how much they're willing to pay.
Are they too expensive?
I'm sure that with time we'll have second-hand models of these tiny cars. The cost would definitely make it more tempting.
But I haven't seen much adoption. You're only allowed to drive them on roads with a speed limit of 50km/h (30mph) or lower, and at least in my city that would make them fairly impractical to get around as all the major roads that connect one community to another are 60km/h or more.
Of course if Tesla goes belly up, this could still be how our all electric future starts.
Mahindra was going to bring some interesting cheap mini-trucks but the chicken tax among other things scuttled it.
Safety crash rating
No solution set found. :(
I'm interested, my 4 mile commute never gets to 30mph anyway, but I need to be sure it will work for me vs just be another ATV that I have no use for. (I just moved, my bike is someplace but until the weather improves I'm not in a hurry to find it).
After looking closer I have more questions: will I fit? I'm only slightly taller than average (about a standard deviation more), but the pictures I can find in a search suggest that I wouldn't fit.
I have to disagree. When it comes to crash safety I am usually much more worried about a large SUV with bald tires than I am about crashing my own car. That SUV is on the road regardless of what you drive unfortunately, which drives the arms race of ever safer (and bigger and more dangerous) vehicles.
>It’s made by China’s Kaiyun Motors and has a 5.5 hp motor that's good for a top speed of just 28 mph, which classifies it as a low-speed or neighborhood electric vehicle (LSV/NEV). Regulations regarding their operation vary state to state, but they are street legal in some places. It's aimed mainly at commercial customers and has a range of 75 miles per charge.
Hello Chinese cars,
Welcome to America and you've been served.
assuming DOT or whoever tests them even let's them in the road.
Probably due to regulation, at least in part: it drives up costs almost 300%.