Overview of Daihatsu Kei Car: 7 Irresistible Models for You

In this diverse world of automobiles, Daihatsu established a unique niche called the Daihatsu kei car. This Japanese automaker has made a name for itself with its innovative and efficient kei cars. Now, let’s delve into the world of kei cars from every angle.

Origin and Evolution of Daihatsu Kei Car

The concept of Kei cars originated in the post-war era in Japan to prioritize the country’s need for affordable and fuel-efficient transportation. In the early 1950s, the Japanese government established regulation of the kei car category, including the strict size and engine displacement limits. 

Daihatsu, the oldest automaker in Japan recognized the potential of this market and began producing kei cars that would not only meet the regulations but also exceed customer expectations. Over the decades, the Daihatsu kei car has played a pivotal role in shaping the kei car landscape.

The company’s innovation and adaptability resulted in a diverse lineup of compact vehicles in line with the evolving customer needs. You can notice the evolution from the classic 1960s microvans to the modern and stylish kei cars today.

The Kei Cars’ Distinctive Feature

The Daihatsu kei car is characterized by its compact size, clever space utilizations, and the engines. From the outside perspective, the compact size contributes to easy parking and maneuverability in densely populated areas. Despite the small size, kei cars offer a surprising amount of interior space, perfect for urban commuting.

Under the hood, kei cars are limited to 660cc engines. Daihatsu can combine this limitation with its technologies, such as lightweight materials and aerodynamic designs to further enhance fuel efficiency. Nowadays, Daihatsu also integrates eco-friendly choices for environmentally conscious consumers.

Accordingly, the standards are also developing in the field of safety. These vehicles often come with advanced safety features including airbags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), and stability control. 

7 Daihatsu Kei Car Models

Daihatsu boasts a diverse range of kei cars that cater to various preferences and lifestyles. Let’s uncover all the Daihatsu kei car collections!

1. Daihatsu Hijet

The Daihatsu Hijet is the first kei car sold by the Daihatsu since 1960. Initially just a kei car, but as time went by, the Hijet has undergone several generations and variations including the Hijet Cargo, Atrai (1981), and Hijet Truck.

Customers have cherished the Hijet as a “working partner” that’s capable of handling a wide range of industries. The latest model of the car was fully redesigned and relaunched in December 2021. 

2. Daihatsu Mira

The second oldest Daihatsu kei car is the Mira. Daihatsu’s Mira series has been in production since 1994. The latest iteration of the series is in 2018. In the Mira Series, Daihatsu offers various options and chassis variations. 

The Mira series is also popular in different countries with different names such as Perodua Kancil in Malaysia and Daihatsu Ceria in Indonesia. A variation named Mira e:S was introduced in September 2011 as an eco-friendly option. The Mira Tocot is also a variation focusing on the comfortability, safety, and ease of use.

3. Daihatsu Move

In August of 1995, the Daihatsu Move was launched as a response to the similar design of the 1993 Suzuki Wagon R. It was built upon the Mira chassis but with a taller body. 

The first generation of the Move has been in production from 1995-1998. The second generation has been in production since 2006, and the Move Conte is a cosmetic variation series available from 2008 to 2017.

One more for the Daihatsu Move variation is the Move Canbus. First launched in 2016, it features rear sliding doors which strangely enough create a new market of women enjoying individual lifestyles. 

4. Daihatsu Copen

The sporty but cute design of the Daihatsu kei car belongs to the Copen. It is a two-door convertible, first introduced at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show and began on sale in 2001. The Copen has widened the kei car selection to sporty models.

In 2014, the second generation of the Copen was introduced along with several variations including the Copen GR Sport and Copen Cero. Recently in 2023, Daihatsu unveiled a larger and more luxurious concept version, namely the Daihatsu Vision Copen at the Japan Mobility Show. 

Top Speed page has named it as one of the remarkable Japanese kei cars along with the other 14 in the list. 

5. Daihatsu Tanto

It was first introduced at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, the Tanto is a continuation of the Move’s “tall” body kei car. Initially, the car began production in November 2003, followed by the Tanto Custom in July 2005. 

The Tanto was built on the Daihatsu New Globel Architecture (DNGA) platform and is available in various grade levels, including L, X, X Turbo, and RS. This series is also available in regular and custom models.

6. Daihatsu Ayla

One of the most recent Daihatsu kei cars is the Daihatsu Ayla. The car is designed to fit a city car model and was manufactured by Astra Daihatsu Motor in Indonesia in 2013. This Daihatsu kei car was primarily developed for emerging markets. Toyota also sold the car as Toyota Agya. 

Since its appearance, the car has undergone several updates and facelifts, creating different variants and features to fit customers’ preferences. As expected from the emerging market, the car gained popularity for its affordability, practicality, and urban driving suitability. 

7. Daihatsu Taft

Initially, rather than a kei car, the Taft was an off-road vehicle built between 1974 and 1984. Taft is also known worldwide by other names such as Rugger, Rocky, and Fourtrak. 

The latest iteration (model LA900) is a crossover-styled kei car built in 2020. Maintaining its rugged design and off-road capabilities, its compact size is also fit to navigate urban environments. Thus, making it one of the most versatile and practical vehicles in the Daihatsu kei car catalog.

Cultural Impact

As one of the historical pieces of engineering in Japan, the kei cars (including those from Daihatsu) have become ingrained in the Japanese culture. Its small size makes it well-suited for navigating narrow streets and tight parking spaces on Japanese streets. The affordability and efficiency add to the reason for its popularity.

Interested With Daihatsu Kei Car?

These kei cars exemplify the art of engineering within constraints. In this constantly evolving automotive landscape, these compact marvels prove that size does not always determine the impact. You can surely enjoy your frequent city commute while benefiting from great features and performance riding one of the Daihatsu kei car types mentioned in the list.

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