In my quest to find out more about Right-Hand Drive (RHD) vehicle owners and exactly why someone would want to acquire a RHD, I interviewed Lindsay Clague, a mother of three from Nelson, B.C. who owns a 1991 Hiace Right-Hand Drive vehicle.
It was pure practicality that led her family to choose a RHD, says Lindsay. According to her experience, there isn’t a comparable, affordable vehicle on the North American market. The Hiace specifically is, “a well thought-out vehicle with lots of cargo space, room for seven passengers and four-wheel drive,” explains Lindsay. “We wanted a reliable vehicle, with good gas mileage, that met the Canadian safety standards and didn’t break the bank. You can get a really decent Hiace for under $10,000. Because you can only import used RHDs older than 15 years, most of the RHDs in Canada are from the early ’90s. But cars from Japan are very well maintained.”
According to Lindsay, it is really challenging to find a four-wheel drive vehicle with capacity for a family of five or more and enough cargo space to travel or camp. North American vans do not come in four-wheel drive, and most four-wheel drive SUVs don’t have the desired seating and cargo capacity. The Honda Pilot and the Toyota Sienna are close, but both have limited cargo space behind the third-row seats and both start in the $31,000(MSRP) range for a new one. Also, many North American cars are all-wheel drive (AWD), not four-wheel drive.
Why is it that a car manufacturer hasn’t yet dominated this untapped market? Is it just too small of a niche? I suspect that this is the case. Yet with more options such as the Pilot and Sienna coming onto the market, eventually prices for used vehicles of this type will drop over time, making them more affordable and accessible.