Never Mind The Showcars, Here's How Daihatsu Gets It Done

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Since the Tokyo Auto Show and some Scion scuttlebutt have us on something of a Daihatsu theme here, I thought I’d show a bit of what the small car specialists are up to these days. The truth: despite the brand’s futuristic showcar image projections, Daihatsu mostly plays in the rough-and-tumble entry-level segments of emerging markets, where the cars are small and the margins can be even smaller.

And it’s had better luck there than in the so-called “mature markets.” Though the third generation Charade flopped on the American market amid much popular ridicule of its name (and, according to gearhead lore, oversight of other favorable qualities), the previous generation became the FAW-Tianjin “Xiali,” one of China’s most ubiquitous cars. Now Daihatsu is ditching Europe and hustling strangely cool little mini-MPVs built in Indonesia with the taglines “it’s very cheap” and “we build them compact.” Who needs developed markets?


Of course you can’t mention Daihatsu without referencing the fact that it is majority owned by Toyota, and the two firms work hand-in-hand. For example, the MPV advertised at the top of the post is sold as both a Daihatsu Xenia and a Toyota Avanza. Interestingly, the outgoing Toyota Yaris was put on sale in Europe as the Daihatsu Charade just this year… apparently the brand’s last “new” model before disappearing from its toehold in Europe.

Speaking of obligatory references, here’s Top Gear’s love song to Daihatsu’s Terios.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Nov 10, 2011

    Wow seems like lots o daihatsu articles recently Have we suddenly found a replacement for panther love

  • MrWhopee MrWhopee on Nov 10, 2011

    Well when your expertise is building small, cheap, fuel-efficient cars, it makes sense to concentrate in market where those are they type of cars that the public wanted. Competing in a land where big cars with honking V8 engine is the norm is doomed to failure, which turns out to be the case.

  • Tassos Most people here who think it is a good idea have NO idea how much such a conversion costs. Hint: MORE than buying an entire new car.
  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
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  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
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