Home » As Usual, Daihatsu Schools Us All On How To Do Concept Cars Right

As Usual, Daihatsu Schools Us All On How To Do Concept Cars Right

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It’s no secret that of all the modern automakers, Daihatsu has my heart in perhaps the strangest way. The company hasn’t been in America for decades and it’s mostly disappeared from the American Collective Automotive Unconscious, but the cars it’s been building primarily for the domestic Japanese market have been fun and practical and stylish and generally exuberant. Daihatsu also makes some great concept cars pretty consistently, and this year is no exception. Let’s take a look at the concept cars Daihatsu is showing at the first-ever Japan Mobility Show, which seems to be what the Tokyo Motor Show is now known as? Huh, how about that?

Oh, and in case you need a little refresher to understand what Daihatsu is about, here’s its current lineup:

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See, the brand is not afraid to lean into a bold design! It has four concepts for the show this year, all made according to the hilariously clunky and goofily earnest theme of “Staying Close to Our Customers and Enriching Their Lives,” a theme that has about as much sex appeal as a series of window displays about home safety and making sure your smoke detector batteries are charged.

Daihatsu’s press release also includes this sort of baffling paragraph that hints at some sort of conflict I’m not aware of at all:

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Daihatsu recognizes that the great inconvenience and concern caused by the procedural irregularities in approval application are unacceptable. Daihatsu will work with an Independent Third-Party Committee will fully clarify the nature of the problems, identify their root cause and receive recommendations on measures to prevent a recurrence. Daihatsu will fully cooperate with the investigation, work promptly to prevent a recurrence, and work to restore the trust of customers and other stakeholders.

The hell are these “procedural irregularities in approval application?” Does this have to do with the concept cars? Oh, it looks like it may have to do with side impact crash testing for some export models? Oh, shit, they rigged crash test results? That’s not good. Still, I suppose I respect the fact that they brought this up in their press release about concept cars for a motor show, which I wouldn’t think anyone expected them to do?

Anyway, let’s get to the concepts!

Memo

The me:MO is a very friendly-robot-looking battery electric car, but what’s notable about it seems to be how it’s built, which Daihatsu says is completely modular. The goal was to make a long-life vehicle that can be re-configured to match you needs as they change throughout your life. From the press release:

  • We changed the way cars were manufactured and made it possible to change not only the design but also the form of the vehicle by constructing a modular structure of interior and exterior parts with necessary and sufficient functionality. This enabled us to realize a sustainable car that can be used for a long time in response to changes in the customer’s stage of life and usage.

I’m guessing Daihatsu would make you pay for the new parts and re-configuration. This approach may seem like a way to just not sell new cars, but from another perspective, if you can get owners to pay to re-configure cars, they’re sort of locked into that particular platform, so perhaps that mitigates the no-buying-cars angle of a very long life car?

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I like how deeply rational this one-box design is, with its sliding door and what seems to be highly effective space utilization.

Speaking of rational, we have more EV:

Uniform

These seem to be highly practical electric delivery vehicles, a box truck type and a cargo van. They look like they were designed by someone whose idea of “fun” is using a label maker to label a large series of identical stainless steel vials, based on their contents. That sounds like an insult, but for vehicles of this category, I don’t think it is. That van design looks like it maximizes the interior space, and the box truck seems to be an EV development of Daihatsu’s Nibako mobile shop system, for things like food trucks and mobile ornithology centers and that sort of thing.

Osanpo

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The word “osanpo” in Japanese means a leisurely walk, or stroll. A constitutional. And that’s the point of this car: an electric roadster designed not so much for sporting, driving fast reasons, but for relaxation. This isn’t so much a Miata-fighter as it is a let’s-watch-the-Miatas-go-by-as-we-happily-enjoy-the-trees-and-listen-to-this-old-Camper-Van-Beethoven-playlist-I-found. I like that idea!

I also like the extensive use of the black rubbery-looking material at the front and rear, which looks like it’d be forgiving in minor bangs and scrapes, which is perfect, because your relaxing car shouldn’t be one you need to worry about.

Visioncopen

This concept is the most familiar of the bunch, as it looks like a modern take on the first-generation Daihatsu Copen roadster, first introduced in 2002. I mean, look:

Copen1

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That’s absolutely a re-born OG Copen. Daihatsu’s press materials say this is a front-engine, rear-drive machine, and uses a combustion engine that is “capable of using CN fuel” which I believe means “carbon neutral” and usually refers to hydrogen fuel. That makes sense, seeing how Daihatsu is a Toyota subsidiary, and Toyota is still very invested in hydrogen as a future sort of fuel. Usually, though, Toyota focuses on hydrogen in the context of a fuel cell driving electric motors; hydrogen as a combustion fuel isn’t usually their focus, so that’s interesting.

These are interesting concepts from Daihatsu! Overall, they appear a bit more, somehow, sober, than usual? More about rational solutions to problems than the usual Daihatsu whimsy, but there’s still some fun to be found here. I’m hoping we’ll hear more about these things soon!

 

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Harmon20
Harmon20
8 months ago

“…and generally exuberant.”

I believe I would have gone with “ebullient” there. It feels so natural with the rest of the sentence you’d constructed to that point that I actually read it that way and had to go back to verify that I’d read it wrong.

Myk El
Myk El
8 months ago

“Daihatsu!”

“Gesundheit!”

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
8 months ago

Aww, why’d they throw out their logo in favor of plain block lettering?

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
8 months ago

The “Japan Mobility Show” huh? I can’t wait to see what personal pod concepts they bring out saying it’s the future of personal transportation, like they have for decades

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

> someone whose idea of “fun” is using a label maker to label a large series of identical stainless steel vials, based on their contents.

Thanks for the shout out!

Strangek
Strangek
8 months ago

These look totally awesome, hopefully they make it to market. Any market.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
8 months ago

That’s absolutely a re-born OG Copen. Daihatsu’s press materials say this is a front-engine, rear-drive machine, and uses a combustion engine that is “capable of using CN fuel” which I believe means “carbon neutral” and usually refers to hydrogen fuel.

This is possible. But it more depends on the market it’s targeted at. Because if it’s being targeted at developing countries and SE Asia?
It’s not “carbon neutral.”
It’s “compressed natural gas.” Which is very widely available and extremely cheap everywhere. (No, seriously. You have a CNG station near you, guaranteed. UPS runs much of their fleet on CNG. And so on.)

It also would align with the current KF-DE, which is to my knowledge, the only VVT CNG engine on the market currently. It’s sold that way in the Mira Van and Hijet Cargo primarily.

DysLexus
DysLexus
8 months ago

That’s exactly what the world needs right now is more Whimsy!
Enough of this practical “real world” crap.

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
8 months ago

_sigh_. Now I have to dig out all my old Camper Van Beethoven. Thanks, Jason. My neighbors are going to think I’m weird again.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
8 months ago

I like that they all seem to smiling at us, as opposed to most vehicles today that look like b-movie serial killers or Monstro the whale in Pinocchio.

Last edited 8 months ago by Canopysaurus
MrLM002
MrLM002
8 months ago

The word “osanpo” in Japanese means a leisurely walk, or stroll. A constitutional. And that’s the point of this car: an electric roadster designed not so much for sporting, driving fast reasons, but for relaxation.

I agree with the concept however making the final product a 2 seater is the wrong way to go. Even as a very introverted person I can’t see myself buying a car with only 1 passenger seat, if I’m going to have a passenger I’m almost certainly going to have 2 passengers. Honestly if I had the choice between one passenger seat or no passenger seat I’d go with no passenger seat and pick a car that is build for one person like the Daihatsu Midget II.

If I were them I’d build the Osanpo with at least a jump seat that is situated behind and in-between the front seats where the rear passenger’s legs go between the front two seats (there’s no shifter to get in the way).

For me though 3 seats is the optimal amount of seats.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
8 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Maybe the Osanpo could have a 30s style rumble seat? That would be my vote.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
8 months ago

I’ll take a Copen to go please

Anders
Anders
8 months ago

From looking at their history of concepts Daihatsu is one of the coolest companies ever, but then you remember production cars like the Charmant, Grand Move and… the Applause

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago

Daihatsu does great concepts, but the track record of putting them into production leaves something to be desired – still waiting for the DN Compagno

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