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Import Vehicle Titles Revoked Kei Truck Drama

Okay, here we go again with these Japanese Kai mini trucks, and there’s a lot of controversy and misunderstandings about them, but even beyond these trucks, even if you’re looking at an import vehicle, an older vehicle, or a gray market vehicle, some of the rules and procedures work the same way, so even if you’re not looking at one of these mini trucks, you want to know how these rules work.

The Drama with Importing Vehicles
So here is the drama with these: there is a standing rule with the portation of vehicles that if a vehicle’s older than 25 years old, it is exempt from certain customs regulations. The EPA has regulations right so you can get it through customs and import the truck, which makes it legal to import. What a lot of people don’t realize is that just because you can import, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be allowed to drive, register, or title it; it just means the federal government will let you bring it through the port. These trucks are designed in Japan to be used mostly for farm work and, uh, rural work, not to be used on major highways.

State Regulations and Issues
Here’s what’s happening in many states:. Many states are realizing that these vehicles do not conform to standards for road use, so even states that allowed them for a while are now pulling the titles and registrations. This example comes from R.I., where they have sent out notices to owners of these vehicles. Even if you already had it titled and registered, you have to cancel it and bring it back. State of Main did it a couple years ago. Many other states are doing the same thing. So if you’re looking to buy one of these, even if your state currently allows it, be aware that at some point they may undo it. It’s technically a state-by-state issue.

Federal Influence
However, the federal government is also influencing this because they have a stake in road and highway use. They give millions of dollars in highway funds and, uh, road district fulfillment to various jurisdictions, and if they find out that a state or a county is allowing unsafe vehicles on the road, they can pull back their highway money, and you might say, Well, it’s not unsafe. Well, according to the federal government, it doesn’t meet the standards of a road use vehicle.

Use and Specifications of Mini Trucks
and this also applies to other types of import vehicles. According to the article, the mini trucks are generally used for things like farmwork; they weigh 1,500 lb., that’s very light, can only reach speeds of 75, and that’s on a good day downhill with a tailwind.

DMV Stance on Mini Trucks
Here’s the big issue: the DMV says these Kai vehicles were never manufactured in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. They’re allowed to be imported if they’re more than 25 years old, but whether they’re allowed on public highways is up to individual states. Right now, it may be up to the state, but the state, when they make their rules go by federal guidelines, trucks previously registered with the DMV for years, and now they’re have to turn in the registrations and keep the vehicles off the road.

Comparison to Other Antique Vehicles
Other antique vehicles are grandfathered because they met our safety standards at the time they were manufactured. That’s the key. You can buy a 194 Ford and it doesn’t meet the current regulations, but it did meet the regulations in 1940. If one of these vehicles, let’s say, is a 1990, it doesn’t meet the standards now, but it didn’t meet the standards in 1990 either, so that’s where the gray area comes in.

Future of Kai Vehicles
Look, we talked to DMV commissioner departments all over the country many times a year. In reality, it’s likely that within the next 3 to 5 years, all these vehicles are going to be withdrawn from eligibility, and it’s not going to be possible to title or register these vehicles, and even if you have one, you have to give it back.

Other import vehicles
where this also comes into play is if you purchase another import vehicle we had a uh a client that purchased an opal from Europe an opal sold sold cars in the US but this was one that was manufactured for the European market in I believe the late ’70s early 80s and that particular European car did not meet the standards for the US market at that time so in order to get it titled or registered this owner would have had to reconfigure it and meet meet the standards some of those standards are impossible to meet if the vehicle’s too narrow or it doesn’t have the right size frame or too light so be aware that when you’re purchasing a vehicle that was not originally manufactured for the US market you have to be cautious that you may either initially or down the road not be able to retain a title or registration for it.

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