By Jeff Moreland
Lynn Wimsatt is like most people in this area when it comes to the high gas prices these days. He’s tired of paying them, and he’s ready to find a new solution. Actually, he thinks he may have found a way to beat the gas prices. Now, he just needs to have it legalized.
Wimsatt operates Tri-County Rebuild, an auto repair shop on Springfield Road in Lebanon, but he lives in Washington County. After growing tired of paying high gas prices, he has come up with an idea to use something he has right on his own farm for travelers around Kentucky.
Wimsatt owns a small truck that would almost fit in the bed of a regular pickup truck. The mini truck, which originated in Japan, features a 45-horsepower engine. He uses it on his farm for some basic tasks, but he has given thought to how mini trucks could become useful in saving gas for drivers on area highways, and he thinks government officials should take note, too.
“They run these trucks in other countries, just like we use Ford and Chevy pickups,” Wimsatt said. “They have seatbelts, turn signals and everything a regular vehicle has, and you can get anything you want for them.” He added that allowing the vehicles to be licensed would benefit the government with the additional revenue, as they would have to be insured and paid taxes upon, just as other vehicles on the road.
Wimsatt estimates the truck, which has a 6-gallon tank, would get about 45 miles per gallon on the highway. He said he has taken over many farm tasks with his mini truck, as opposed to using his larger pickup trucks.
“I’ve got two big half-ton pickup trucks, and they’re both parked,” he said. “I saw this golf cart thing in the news, and it sort of jogged my mind. All these other countries using these little trucks can’t be wrong. I know there’s a lot of stuff they won’t work with, but in the whole scheme of things, trying to save on gas and make this problem get better, it will be one more piece of the puzzle. But we have to be able to get them licensed.”
Wimsatt said he realizes the small trucks are not safe for interstate highways, but as for local roads, he thinks they would be perfectly safe. Still, he has had no success in trying to get the vehicle approved for road use, and that’s something he said needs to change.
“The American people are struggling with gas prices. This isn’t a cure all, and I don’t want to be getting on I-65 going to Louisville in one, but for a road that’s posted 55 miles per hour, it’s no problem. Obviously they wouldn’t be as safe as a full-sized truck with airbags, but it should be my choice, just as riding a motorcycle without a helmet is today,” he said. “Are we so arrogant to think we don’t need these things?”
Wimsatt said the trucks are not very expensive. He gave $4,500 for his mini truck, and he bought it used. He said most of them are imported from Japan, and there are several Web sites where shoppers can find the mini trucks.
Still, with no license for the mini truck, and no relief in sight for gas prices, Wimsatt has left his full-sized trucks parked.
“I purchased two little 4-cylinder cars, and me and my wife both drive these cars. We went from 15 to 17 miles per gallon to 30 miles per gallon,” he said. “That kind of takes $4 gas back to $2 gas, and every little bit helps.”