Emperor trades in '60s limos for $3.7m Toyotas

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2005, 12:00am


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Japan's imperial family is trading in its fleet of limousines, and not before time - some of the Nissans are up to 38 years old.

The vehicles will be replaced by Nissan's rival, Toyota, the country's largest car company.

The emperor's new cars will be souped-up versions of the appropriately named Century Royal, and come with a price tag of 52.5 million yen ($3.72 million) each, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

'We filed an application on August 31 to acquire the new imperial limousines under the fiscal 2006 budget,' said spokesman Kenji Maeda. 'We are planning to introduce the first of the new cars next year and replace all five limousines within the next five years.'

The present Prince Royal vehicles - jet black and with the golden chrysanthemum design on the doors - are used for official duties and were the first domestically produced car used by the imperial family. The five limousines are showing their age, however, as the newest went into service in 1972, while the oldest dates to 1967.

'We were not in the bidding to provide the replacement cars because we no longer make that model and we would have needed to build an entirely new car,' said a spokeswoman for Nissan. The company said the vehicles were difficult to maintain.

The vehicles will have 5,000cc engines, seating for eight passengers and bulletproof windows.