Toyota: Let's Get Small
Minicars, that Japanese specialty with a pint-sized (0.66 liter) enginelet, still commands a market share of more than 30 percent in Japan. It used to be more. Toyota didn’t play in that segment, that’s what Daihatsu was for. Today, The Nikkei [sub] reports that Toyota will enter the minicar market. Wait a minute, wasn’t that what Daihatsu was for? Oh, they still are …
In a communiqué, Toyota announced that “Daihatsu is to supply minivehicles to TMC on an original-equipment-manufacturer’s basis for sale in Japan.” In other words, Toyota will rebadge Daihatsus and sell them through the Toyota dealer network. Which will make Daihtasu dealers just giddy with joy.
But don’t worry, “even with this development, TMC will continue to mainly focus on full-size vehicles and Daihatsu on minivehicles.”
Phew. Glad they mentioned that.
The government shipyard where I worked had a fleet of Daihatsu Hi-Jet pickups for on-base use. Slick for maneuvering on crowded piers, economical, able to take abuse from all kinds of drivers driving someone else's vehicle. They had defrosters, automatic chokes, and a place for a radio. The gov't locked out high gear in the trannies to keep people from speeding in the shipyard. I'll never know whey they didn't buy more when the little 'hatsus eventually wore out.
Luckily for us Canuck's we can import older kei cars and legally drive them around. I think the coolest looking of the lot has got to be the Suzuki Alto Works RS/X with all of 65bhp and 650kg in weight. Problem is they command a bit of a premium... http://www.japanoid.com/cardata.php?listing=128
that thing looks like a miniature Chevette
The car pictured here was a hilarious attempt at automobile craftsmanship in Portugal, a product of the ’74 revolution (whatever). Like the “products” of the era, it is best forgotten. Powered by a 550 cc gas engine (Daihatsu sourced) it was notorious for the high fuel consumption (any proper small car would be as good) and cramped interior. The dynamics were that of a vehicle with two live axles coupled with leaf springs. Safety, unheard. At any rate this site may be of interest: http://www.jcle.pt/sado550/en/ Anyway, it has historic value.