In this time of economic troubles, Japanese consumers are no longer paying high prices to drive glitzy automobiles. So, carmakers have come out with mini-cars priced under $4,000, hoping to lure more buyers.
"The quality is pretty much high," says one motorist. "I think it's really good for the economy, too."
The new models are not exactly designed for excitement, and that, say Japanese carmakers, is exactly the point. They wanted something kinder and gentler. Translated, that means a car they could market to women. The market has vast potential, from women in the workforce to wives looking for second cars.
"I live in Tokyo, so if I were to buy a car, I'd prefer a small car," says one woman who is a stock analyst.
Trust the Japanese to dream up a few irresistible extras, like an anti-bacterial steering wheel.
The cars and the advertising campaigns are off and running. Carmakers can only hope their gamble takes off.