Mini Truck Depot is the #1 portal to buy Japanese mini trucks in the US. But what are these Japanese mini trucks? Why did they originate in Japan? How did these quirky vehicles designed for the Japanese domestic market end up with such a following in the US?
Wait, What Is A Mini Truck?
If you’ve just stumbled on Mini Truck Depot from a Google search or whatever, your first question is quite likely to be very simply, “What on earth is a mini truck?” You know what trucks are. You know what pickups are. But what is a mini truck? Is it some sort of kids toy? A model?
A photo is worth at least a thousand words, so first of all, let’s take a look at a typical mini truck. Here's one: A Daihatsu Hijet.
Okay, so this Hijet Jumbo model has been played with a little for the US market. It's had a lift kit fitted so that it can take fancy wheels with larger, grippier off-road tires. Then there's the roof rack and light bar as well. Looks good, right?
You'll find a lot of the mini trucks for sale here at Mini Truck Depot are accessorized like this, so let's get another photo in here to show you what a Japanese mini truck looks like in its original configuration. Now, this one's a Suzuki Carry on the wharf in Japan getting ready to ship out. Take a look.
As you can see, in many ways it’s like a full-size truck, just mini-sized. You have a 2-person cab at the front and a load bed at the rear. The other thing you will immediately notice is how different it is to a UTV side-by-side. Right away, you’ll spot that it has a fully enclosed weatherproof cab with proper doors and windows. You’ll also notice the mirrors and turn signals. In other words, as soon as you put the mini truck up against the UTV, you are aware if just how like a regular vehicle it is in terms of safety, equipment and comfort. (And all of that equipment -- and more -- comes as standard!)
Yes, in fact you’ll see that any of the mini trucks for sale here at Mini Truck Depot have a level of equipment that easily outpaces even the most highly specced UTV.
Wait, Why The UTV Comparison?
And so we come to your next question: “Hold on a second. If these are trucks, why are you comparing them with UTVs and not regular pickup trucks?” Good spotting. A lot of people do take a look at these mini trucks, they hear the “truck” in the name, and they start salivating at the prospect of a mini-sized vehicle to get around locally and save big money on gas.
That’s a great thought, and in Japan these vehicles are on the roads literally everywhere hauling stuff and people down city streets, along farm tracks, and up mountain roads. In fact, they make up between 25% and 40% of the cargo carrying vehicles on the road depending where you are in the country. The thing is that in the US they don’t meet over the road vehicle standards, so all the mini trucks you see on our site are sold exclusively for off-road use only.
(It’s disappointing but, that’s the government, right?)
But They're Not Just Mini Pickup Trucks Either
No, these Japanese mini trucks come in all sorts of shapes (if not sizes -- they are all "mini" after all). We've already had a look at a couple of pickup-style models further up the page, but let's see what else is available.
We'll start with the dump mini truck models. Here's a typical Daihatsu Hijet dump kei truck. This one is an HD (Heavy Duty) dump and also has a snow plow attachment. Yes, you could say this is the Swiss Army Knife of mini trucks. What could you not get done with this little guy?
And then there's the 4-passenger crew-cab style Daihatsu Hijet Deck Van model. Now this could also be referred to as somewhat of a Swiss Army Knife mini truck. It can do a number of things: There's seating for 4 passengers in comfort with wide sliding doors at the back. (Great if you're bringing your kids or grandkids with you!) Then there's the deep rear load bed. And if you need more flexibility to move stuff around, you can remove the seat bases for the rear passengers and use that enclosed area to haul stuff too. (You can see why these Deck Vans are so popular, right?)
Finally, there's the van-style mini truck models (the Daihatsu Hijet Cargo and Suzuki Every). Got a large manufacturing facility? What about a hospital or college campus? These make great vehicles for your maintenance team, or to move people around in much greater comfort than the golf carts you would otherwise be using. Like with the Deck Van, there's seating for 4. But, unlike the Deck Van, the rear load area is fully enclosed, so folding down the rear seats gives you a large volume of hauling space that's protected from the elements.
Ready To Learn More About Mini Trucks?
Delve deeper into the mini truck world by finding out …
- The history of Japanese mini trucks
- Why Japanese mini trucks became popular in the US
- What is it about mini trucks that has people choosing them in droves over UTVs and other off-road vehicles?
- How to choose the Japanese mini truck that fits your needs best.
- Our nationwide independent mini truck dealer network.