Daihatsu motor company has its headquarters in Ikeda, Japan. It is the oldest of all the Japanese car manufacturers. Toyota now own a majority share in the company. Plummeting sales and a strong Yen meant their withdrawal from Europe. Does Toyota have plans to strategically use the brand, and possibly even re-introduce it to Europe?
The earliest incarnation of Daihatsu was called Hatsudoki Seiza Co Ltd; this roughly translates as Engine Manufacture Co. Ltd. It was founded in 1907. It wasn’t officially renamed Daihatsu Motor Company until 1951. They quickly became well known for their small vehicles, and have had success in many markets.
Origins of the name
Daihatsu’s hometown is in Osaka Prefecture. They combined the first kanji from Osaka to the first part of ‘Engine Manufacture’ (Hatsudoki Seizo), and combined the two. So we get Dai from Osaka, and Hatsu from Hatsudoki, giving us Daihatsu.
Daihatsu has had some great successes outside of Europe. The Mira series had topped 4 million sales by the year 2000, whilst domestic sales of the Move topped 1 million in the same year.
In 1966 the Daihatsu Motor Company formed Daihatsu Diesel Motor Manufacturing Company. It was formed for the sole purpose of producing marine engines and diesel generators.
Daihatsu has signed many small partnerships to help with overseas production and parts sourcing. The most significant of all their partnerships was one signed with Toyota in 1967. Toyota has gradually increased their share in the company, and is now the majority shareholder with just over a 51% stake.
Shrinking with age
The current economic climate has hit the export side of Daihatsu’s business hard. They announced in 2011 that they would be withdrawing from Europe. Prior to this they had already withdrew from the Australian market, where they had a presence for almost 40 years. They also shut their plant, and withdrew from the car market in Thailand. It was also announced on the 8th April 2013 that they would be withdrawing from the New Zealand market.
It’s not all doom and gloom
Toyota has announced they intend to persist with Daihatsu in the Chilean market, despite dwindling sales. They are also investing over 200 million dollars into a new plant in Indonesia. Production at the plant was scheduled to start at the end of 2012, and early estimates state the plant will produce in the region of 100,000 cars per year.
What’s all the fuss about electric vehicles?
Daihatsu has been developing electric vehicles since the 1970’s, long before the more recent environmentally charged rush started. They are also one of the participating companies in the Japanese Electric Vehicle Associations PREET program. The program allows registered users to use cars around town. The mileage is logged and charged to their account on a per mile basis.
The current Daihatsu corporate website shows 4 models currently for sale. The small Terios, A 7 seater variation of the Terios, the Sirion, and the Gran Max Minivan. Their philosophy still very much focuses on producing small economical cars.
Big changes at the top
In May 2013 Daihatsu announced the restructuring of its top personnel. They have appointed a new Chairman, President, Executive Vice President, and two Directors. In a joint statement made by the new Chairman and President they say they are focusing on what they know, and we should expect to see big things from Daihatsu in the future.