CC Outtake: Takeoka Abbey – Micro…Real Micro…

(Note:  We have a real CC effect going on here in Tokyo – unknown to the other, Tatra87 and I both recently came across a Takeoka microcar – so his recent post last week and mine were done separately without any collaboration – so you may see some overlap.)

Tatra87 has been fortunate enough to find several of these Takeoka microcars here in Japan, but in my nearly thirty years here, I just came across my first one this week…

This Takeoka is an “Abbey” – somewhat easy to tell with the name emblazoned up front.  The Abbey is one of several small cars made by Takeoka Auto Craft – a small firm that started out making mobility-assist devices for the disabled in 1982.  They branched out into making small electric vehicles in 1984.  While this is the first one I’ve seen here in Tokyo, they must be doing fairly well as their website shows they now have five separate models in their lineup…

First is this Abbey – which is a one-seat model powered by a Honda one-cylinder 50cc 4-stroke engine.  The body is fiberglass.  It is 2.15 meters long, 1.1 wide, and 1.35 tall.  Overall weight is 160kg.  Advertised top speed (on level ground no doubt and perhaps with a slight tailwind) is 60 kph and the company says mileage is on average 35 km/l or 82 MPG.  Base price (at current exchange rates) is $8,200.  What’s interesting about these microcars is that they are not classified as motor vehicles – they’re in the same category as a motorized bicycle or scooter – so they are exempt from motor vehicle crash standards and other requirements.

It looks like there’s just enough room inside for you and your toy poodle…

This pic shows just how small this car is – the model on the right is a Nissan Serena – a mid-sized van.

Let’s look at Takeoka’s other models.  Here is the Millieu R – which is an Abbey with an electric motor/batteries in place of the Honda gas engine.  Dimensions are the same, with a top speed of 50 kph and a range on a full charge of 45 km.  Price is similar to the Abbey.

A little larger is the T-10, which is still a one-seater but increases overall dimensions slightly.  It is electric with four 12V lead acid batteries and a 2.5 KW motor.  Max speed is 55 kph and range is 45 km. Around $10K will buy you one.

The Rookie is a four-wheeled covered scooter – again, electric powered.  Max speed is 30 kph and range is 35 km.  Drive one home for around $5K.

Last is the U-Land, which is a 8-12 seat electric-powered shuttle, designed for non-public road use, i.e., airports, large plants and factories, amusement parks, etc.  Seats are wide enough for two and length can be varied based on capacity desired.

There’s a fully enclosed version also which makes it look like a micro urban transit bus…my favorite obviously…

So Takeoka is certainly an interesting company – like Mitsuoka, it has carved out a niche in the auto market here in Japan, prospering and remaining profitable.

Photo By Tatra87

 

But the obvious question here is why would a Japanese consumer prefer one of these microcars to a similarly priced or even cheaper kei-class model, that would carry a passenger or more, have a cargo capacity of at least 200 kg, and come with a modern HVAC system.  My guess is that it all boils down to size.  There are still some older Japanese homes that do not have a parking space (street parking is prohibited) but may have a patch small enough to squeeze one of these in.  The example above is one that Tatra87 found.

I’ll have to stop by this parking lot again – and wait to see if the owner drops by – and ask nicely if they wouldn’t mind if I sat inside.  Trying to cram myself into and out of this Abbey would have to be hilarious…but at my age, likely injury-provoking…