Mini trucks are a mystery to many urban dwellers. In most cases, you’d only see these in the wide-open roads down in the countryside near farms, fields, and mountains. Although, you might encounter a few of these vehicles hauling various items in the city as well.
Are you curious about these small, two-seat utility vehicles and what they’re used for? Here are some fun facts that truckers should know about mini trucks:
1. Mini Trucks Originated in Japan
Mini trucks have evolved to become a new type of workhorse vehicle used all across the globe. However, it had a very humble beginning. The first mini truck was the Datsun 1000, a 1000cc Japanese utility vehicle manufactured in 1955.
It’s pretty common knowledge that mini trucks came from Japan. What many don’t know, however, is that they were conceptualized and manufactured for the sole purpose of meeting the statutory requirements of a keijidōsha, which roughly translates to ‘light vehicle’. The Japanese needed a micro utility truck suitable for city driving.
During the initial years, they were primarily used for short-distance hauling and deliveries. For example, businesses that regularly shipped out appliances like television sets, refrigerators, and washing machines in their local communities would use these trucks as their daily workhorse.
As time passed, manufacturers strived to improve the technology behind mini trucks to accommodate long-distance traveling as well. This development paved the way for the popularization of mini trucks in the countryside. These days, you’ll even see these trucks cruising down muddy fields and steep roads while carrying heavy farming equipment.
2. Mini Trucks Were a Gas Crisis Solution
The first Datsun trucks arrived in the U.S. in 1959. Although, they weren’t a big hit with Americans at first. Unlike the Japanese, Westerners didn’t care too much for micro vehicles, and they didn’t even have statutory lightweight vehicle classes. Rather, they were into large, heavy-duty American-made Ford and Chevrolet trucks.
However, the American consumer market’s general perception of mini trucks changed during the oil crisis in 1973. With fuel prices at an all-time high, truckers were no longer financially capable of supporting their gas-guzzling pickup trucks. They were in need of something affordable, reliable, and most importantly, fuel-efficient. Hence, the popularization of mini trucks.
3. Mini Trucks Are Popular Workhorse Vehicles in Japan
If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ve probably noticed how popular these small utility trucks are among the locals. Statistics show that there were more than 380 million new registration sales of mini trucks in 2020. This number is quite a lot considering Japan only has a population of 126 million.
The Japanese rely on them since they’re very versatile. Mini trucks have enough engine power to climb the steep, muddy hills in Kawagoe, Saitama At the same time, they’re also small enough to fit the busy, compact roads of Tokyo with high foot traffic.
This versatility allows locals to use these trucks for a wide range of purposes, from hauling farm equipment in the countryside to delivering parcels to city residents. They’re definitely a workhorse staple in Japan.
4. Japanese Mini Trucks Are Inexpensive
If you’re looking for an affordable, reliable everyday workhorse vehicle, go for mini trucks. Most mini truck models available in the American market cost between $13,000 to $20,000.
Cheaper brands like Mitsubishi are on the lower end of the spectrum, while household staples like Daihatsu have pricier vehicles. Although, even the fully loaded models of a Daihatsu mini truck are a lot cheaper than the base model of American pickup trucks like Chevrolet and Ford, which cost no less than $28,000.
5. Light to Moderate Towing is Possible With Mini Trucks
Most mini trucks have a 660cc 45-horse power engine capable of towing around 1,500 pounds of cargo. This capacity is suitable for pulling trailers filled with gravel, construction equipment, or even project site essentials such as portable toilets. You can also use these utility vehicles to tow other light vehicles such as fishing vessels, tractors, and motorbikes.
6. Mini Truck Engines Are Extremely Fuel Efficient
Another reason why the Japanese love mini trucks so much is because they are extremely fuel-efficient. In fact, most mini trucks have a fuel consumption of 35 to 50 mpg. If you have a light payload and often use the vehicle for long drives on open roads with little to no traffic, then you’ll definitely be able to utilize its fuel economy.
Now, for the fuel type, you’ll likely have the option to go with either a diesel or unleaded engine. Diesel is definitely cheaper. If you opt for mini-trucks that run on diesel, you’ll be able to save a lot of money on fuel in the long run.
However, diesel is extremely bad for the environment. Vehicles that run on diesel produce a ton of harmful emissions and they are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in the country to date. If you want something that’s a bit more environment-friendly, go with an unleaded engine.
7. Mini Trucks Are the Perfect Mobile Business Vehicles
A common misconception about mini trucks is they’re limited to hauling and deliveries. No, you can use them for a wide range of businesses such as:
Mini trucks are the perfect vehicle for aspiring food truck owners. Firstly, the cargo bed is large enough to accommodate multiple tools and equipment, from small pans to large stoves.
Secondly, the engine is fuel-efficient. You can go from city to city on a daily basis without worrying about gas eating up the majority of your profits.
Lastly, they’re compact. There are cases where cops force pickup trucks to shut down if they’re blocking traffic or obstructing sidewalks. Fortunately, mini trucks are compact enough to fit in small spaces. You can park them in unobtrusive areas such as alleys and street corners.
Note: Familiarize yourself with the city’s rules and regulations on mobile food trucks. Yes, mini trucks are compact and discreet, but you won’t be able to build a long-running, profit-generating business if you’re tricking the authorities.
Want to start a pest control business? The cost of the chemicals and equipment needed can be quite high. To keep your overhead to a minimum, opt to use a mini truck for your daily commute instead of a regular pickup truck. You can spend the money you save on higher-quality pesticide formulas and chemicals.
Another way to utilize the affordability of a mini truck is to get multiple vehicles. Once you’re ready to expand, hire employees to work under your brand. Then, widen your service area to cover other nearby cities. Just keep using your savings on logistics to get top-quality, premium pesticide.
Save money on shipping fees in the long run by fulfilling your shop’s deliveries yourself. A single mini truck has enough payload capacity to accommodate multiple parcels and goods. This strategy works especially best for larger brands that fulfill dozens of local orders daily.
If you have an Amazon FBA business, skip the shipping and opt to do the deliveries to the warehouse yourself. Use the savings to run ads and market your eCommerce business instead.
Important: No matter what type of business you run, do not neglect getting the necessary commercial insurance. The premiums are a pain to pay. However, the coverage and protection they guarantee in times of crisis are priceless. Many businesses have survived the toughest of times thanks to their business insurance policies.
8. Getting Insurance for Mini Trucks Is Complex
What makes mini truck insurance policies complex is the plans vary on a case-by-case basis. There is no standard, uniform policy. The best approach here is to identify the main purpose of your mini truck, determine the most possible risks you’re facing, and gauge what type of coverage can help you recover from possible damages.
Pro Tip: Having a hard time finding the right truck insurance policy for your mini truck? Reach out to insurance professionals such as Assured Standard. You need reputable, unbiased third-party experts who can help you identify the best insurance policy for your business based on your specific needs, goals, and demands.
9. Mini Trucks Can Accommodate Daily Equipment Hauling
SMBs and individual contractors who need to drive around with different tools and equipment can look into mini trucks. They have a payload capacity of around 900 to 1000 pounds. That means these utility vehicles can accommodate a wide range of items, from small toolbox kits to heavy landscaping equipment.
One advantage of opting to use mini trucks for your business instead of the standard pickup truck is they’re far more cost-efficient. They’re cheaper to buy, run, and maintain. If you do not need the extra engine power and payload capacity that a larger truck offers, we strongly suggest getting compact mini trucks instead.
Overall, mini trucks are compact, two-seater utility trucks perfect for various tasks such as parcel delivery, equipment hauling, and small vehicle towing. They’re definitely a cheaper, more efficient alternative to larger pickup trucks. Don’t force yourself to get a large track if you don’t need the extra cargo space. Otherwise, you’ll hurt your profits in the long run.
Also, feel free to explore all your options. Check out popular Japanese brands that have been around for decades such as Honda, Suzuki, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi. The Japanese turn to these brands for sturdy mini trucks to use as everyday workhorse vehicles. Reliability won’t be an issue.
Did we miss anything? Share your fun, informative facts about mini trucks with the community in the comments section below!