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Daihatsu D-R concept looks like a Copen successor

Tue, 25 Sep 2012

Daihatsu, everyone's seventh-favorite Japanese automaker, is making big waves at the Indonesian Motor Show this year. Typically writing a sentence like that one would preclude such news to follow from, well, being newsworthy here in the U.S., but we've always been such fans of Daihatsu's cheeky Copen convertible Kei car that we couldn't resist reporting on the model's spiritual successor.
Called D-R, this sprightly concept droptop is obviously heavily reminiscent of the Copen, though more modern, with an oversized front fascia, Audi-style aluminum windshield frame and a leather-lavished interior that has a zero-percent chance of making it to production. It's also 100-percent more endearing than the similarly sized D-X Concept that was shown at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.
We're told that the D-R showcar has replaceable resin body panels - fit to be switched out when the conceptual owner requires a freshened visage. Inside, a central touchscreen does most of the heavy lifting in terms of driver controls, while an LCD screen has taken the place of a traditional instrument binnacle.

Toyota launches new Pixis Epoch kei car in Japan

Sat, 12 May 2012

Kei cars may be small in size, but they're big business in Japan. The latest arrival to the category is the little hatch you see above, the Toyota Pixis Epoch.
It's the fourth vehicle produced by the Daihatsu division but sold under the Toyota brand. As with other keis, power comes from a 660cc engine. It's mated to a continuously variable transmission driving either just the front wheels or all four. In both configurations, the Pixis Epoch features a stop-start system that helps its emissions and fuel efficiency figures come in well below even the Japanese government's stringent standards.
The whole package measures just 3,395 mm (133 inches) long, 1,475 mm (58 inches) wide and 1,500 mm (59 inches) tall, but offers a relatively spacious and utile interior, plus a tight turning radius of just 4.4 meters. Pricing ranges from 795,000 to 1.2 million yen - that's less than $10,000 (and no more than $15k). Further details in the press release after the jump.

Daihatsu Copen, Japan's last kei convertible, ending production

Fri, 06 Apr 2012

You may not have ever heard of a car called the Daihatsu Copen, but it's ending production and we're sad to report it. The Copen is (or was) made by the budget Toyota brand and stands as the only convertible kei car - those being the whimsical little cars that zip around Japan - still on the market.
A tiny two-seat roadster with a 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Copen was a favorite among customers for being just downright fun. But apparently after ten years of production, there just aren't enough of those customers left to justify its continued production.
As a result, Daihatsu is reportedly discontinuing the line, with no apparent plans to replace it. Before it does, however, a 10th anniversary edition is reportedly in the works, with production limited to just 500 units. But with only 2,000 Copens sold last year, that represents a full quarter of production.

Daihatsu FC Case Concept is autonomous, high-tech transportation

Thu, 01 Dec 2011

The one thing that's been missing from this year's Tokyo Motor Show are the inevitable rolling living room concepts of years past. But Daihatsu has come to the rescue with its FC Case concept.
The rolling bread box might not look like much from the outside, but inside it's packed with folding seats and a host of infotainment gadgets. Just as important is the FC's method of propulsion, a variant of hydrogen called hydrazine hydrate or N2H4 H2O (yes, we had to look it up) that's synthesized from nitrogen and hydrogen. Daihatsu says the fuel has a higher energy density and lower flammability, but more intriguing is the delivery. Hydrazine hydrate can supposedly be transported and inserted into the vehicle much like gasoline, which takes care of that pesky infrastructure situation. Couple that with some kind of autonomous driving system and it's not hard to imagine a fleet of FCs running down the highway at speed, bumper-to-bumper, cleanly and quickly delivering employees to work in 2035... or something.

Daihatsu D-X portends a less endearing Copen successor

Wed, 30 Nov 2011

We've always had a soft spot for the Daihatsu Copen. Granted, it always struck us as an overly effeminate Audi TT, but that's not a particularly bad thing. But after nearly a decade of production, Daihatsu has to move on, so across the way from the "Ultimate Edition" Copen at the Tokyo Motor Show is this, the Daihatsu DX concept.
An odd amalgamation of Kei car size and SUV styling, the D-X features a retractable hard top and composite body panels that Daihatsu claims can be swapped out at will. Keeping within the Kei car limits in Japan, the D-X is powered by a turbocharged two-cylinder engine outputting around 60 horsepower and spinning the front wheels. We couldn't get a straight answer from the Daihatsu reps on the floor, but based on the model years we through out in broken Japanese, we should be seeing the D-X in production form late next year.

Toyota launches Pixis Space; first kei cars are Daihatsus in drag

Fri, 09 Sep 2011

Toyota has announced that it will unveil its first-ever kei car to be sold under its recently launched Pixis sub-brand. The vehicle, called the Pixis Space, will make its official debut in late September. Based on the Daihatsu Move Conte, the Pixis Space will be sold at Toyota dealerships through what the automakers calls "Pixis stations." Yes, seriously.
After Toyota's version of the Daihatsu Move Conte makes its debut, the Japanese automaker will launch a Pixis-badged Daihatsu Hijet truck and microvan in December. By the end of 2012, Toyota says it will launch a Pixis version of the upcoming Daihatsu e:S - a vehicle that returns 70.6 miles per gallon (U.S.) as measured under Japan's JC08 test cycle.
In case you weren't aware, Daihatsu - Japan's oldest manufacturer of automobiles - operates under the control of Toyota. In other words, these Pixis machines are simply badge engineering at the kei level.

Report: Daihatsu leaving European market

Sun, 16 Jan 2011

More than any other, two carmaking giants sit at the top of the industry: Toyota and General Motors. But while GM sells under a (shrinking but still) expansive range of brands, the Toyota Motor Corporation sells most of its vehicles under its own name. That doesn't mean that Toyota, however, doesn't have its own portfolio of subsidiaries. Here in the United States we have the youth-oriented Scion division, while Lexus handles its upscale offerings, and overseas there's Daihatsu.
The budget brand offers a range of small cars under its own name; most are hatchbacks, but there's also the Copen roadster and even a rebadged Camry called the Altis. You may have come across some of their offerings while traveling overseas, particularly in Europe, but that last part is about to come to an end, according to reports.
Word from across the pond is that Toyota plans to withdraw Daihatsu from the European market altogether. The move would reportedly take effect in 2013, and if it comes to pass, would follow similar withdrawals from the North American (1992) and Australian (2006) markets. Thanks for the tip, William!

Oh, Kei Go: Toyota set to enter JDM minicar market?

Fri, 01 Oct 2010

Toyota is looking to get bigger... by going smaller. The Japanese automaker is looking to enter the kei car market, a popular segment in its homeland. Kei cars are small vehicles with restrictions on length (11.15 feet), width (4.86 feet), engine size (660 cubic centimeters) and power output (63 horsepower). Currently, Toyota is the only Japanese automaker not producing vehicles for this segment, but that is set to change, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to its relationship with Daihatsu, Toyota can jump right into the kei car game. Daihatsu is one of the largest producer of kei vehicles and it is currently owned by Toyota.
Although kei cars are restricted in terms of size and power, they are not restricted by technology. Automakers utilize different drive configurations, powertrains and amenities to keep their cars fresh. Daihatsu and Toyota plan to work together to produce Toyota-branded kei cars. The two companies will utilize Toyota's knowledge of electric and hybrid systems to produce efficient little vehicles for the Japanese market.

Tokyo 2009: Daihatsu Basket concept looking for Little Green Riding Hood

Wed, 21 Oct 2009

Daihatsu Basket -- Click above for high-res image gallery
We're sure it wasn't meant this way, but standing beside the Daihatsu Basket concept, you do feel like you could throw things in it, pick the thing up by its t-top crossbar, and take it to a picnic. And carrying it that way would probably be better than driving it. A thoroughly JDM offering, it is described thusly: "the slow pace of life open four-seater model with a wide rear deck is designed for full enjoyment of life, such as for trips to the family vegetable plot out of the city." Amen.
The rinky-dinky pickup packs a removable hardtop up front and a removable canvas top in back, and linen throughout the cabin for that light, airy interior feel. We like it. We like it a lot. Take a look at it in the gallery of high-res photos below.