DCX smart K gives buyers in Japan a break

Smart deal in Japan
  smart Coupe smart K Japanese minivehicles*
Width (inches) 59.6 57.9 58.3
Length (inches) 100.8 100.8 133.9
Height (inches) 61 61 61
Engine size (cc) 598 598 660
Price (yen) 1,300,000 1,270,000 n/a
Price ($) $10,833 $10,583 n/a
tax, insurance savings** (yen) 0 81,000 n/a
tax, insurance savings** ($) 0 $675 n/a
*-maximum according to Japanese law **-at purchase; additional savings on annual taxes and insurance Source: Automotive News

TOKYO, Oct. 26 — The smart K, which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show, offers Japanese buyers substantial savings over the standard smart coupe, although the sticker price is only slightly less.

The taxman, not the carmaker, offers the discount.

By changing just the fenders and tires, with no costly alterations to the suspension, mcc smart narrowed the two-seater's overall width by 1.8 inch, or 45 millimeters, to 1.47 meter. That was enough to allow the smart K to qualify for the tax breaks given to minivehicles with engines smaller than 660cc. The name comes from the Japanese word for minivehicles, “keijidosha.”

The smart k costs 1.27 million yen, or $10,583 at current exchange rates, vs. $10,833 for the smart coupe.

A buyer who chooses a smart k instead of a coupe, however, immediately will save an estimated $675 in various taxes and standard insurance rates. By shopping for competitive insurance, the savings could rise slightly. In each subsequent year of ownership, the tax and insurance savings will be between $250 and $333, depending on prefectural tax rates.

The smart K went on sale in Jap n on Oct. 24.

You can reach James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com

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