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Japan: Toyota Unveils Build-Your-Own Car for Kids

By: RTV/CBS
By: RTV/CBS

Toyota on Thursday (June 13) introduced an electric car kit aimed at children of 10 years and older at a car show.

The world's largest automaker said it wanted to get kids interested in cars at a young age.

Car sales have been on a downward trend in Japan and domestic passenger car sales are forecast to drop by about 13 percent in 2013, Japan Automobile Manufacturer's Association said.

The car kit kit is easily put together, Toyota said, and comes with interchangeable car panels.

"We have to figure out how to involve children with cars and make them fans of automobiles in this mature market by making interaction with the car fun. Cars are all about fun and we want to put this out to them as a suggestion and see where this goes," said 40-year-old Tsuji Kenji, the developer-in-charge of the project.

The car can hold the weight of up to three adults and has a top speed of up to 40 km (24 miles) per hour.

That may seem fast for a 10-year-old to handle, so safety measures are in place for parents. Handbrakes are placed at the rear passenger seats for the parents to activate the emergency brakes.

Additionally, a knob allows the parents to cap the car's top speed at 5,10, 20 or 30 kilometres per hour, just in case their child decides to floor the pedal.

"If we insist that everything is dangerous, it's better that we just sit around and not do anything. There are times where it really is dangerous, but we should trust our children more. Of course, that is after we take the necessary safety precautions," said the Camatte 57s's designer Kota Nezu.

The word 'Camatte' in Japanese means "Get me involved" or "Care for me".

People who attended the car show said they would like to give the Camatte a test run.

"I want to take it for a spin and ride around town to see what it feels like driving so close to the ground even at my age. If I had kids, I would want to ride it with my child and we could even exchange seats and drive the car in turns," 24-year-old Akemitsu Takase said.

Toyota said the new cars can be driven by children, but have not been through safety tests, and there are no plans to put them on sale yet.

It added that even if they were sold, the cars would only be driven inside private compounds.


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