Advertisement

"Toyota needs Daihatsu's cleverness in the small car sector"

Mike Rutherford thinks Daihatsu's bonkers ideas are what Toyota needs to compete in the booming city car segment

Opinion Daihatsu

The weirdest car factory I’ve ever visited? Daihatsu’s plant in Osaka. And the friendly staff, plus the names and designs of some of their vehicles, were wonderfully wacky, too.

It's a shame that the firm pulled out of Britain and mainland Europe as it was, and still is, ahead of its time in many respects. There were electric Daihatsus decades ago, the company was big on diesel long before rivals jumped on the derv bandwagon, and as I witnessed in the prototype centre in Osaka, this city car specialist has some bonkers ideas for the urban runabouts of tomorrow.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The cute, compact kei car is king in traffic-choked Japan and other Asian cities. And clever Daihatsu does ’em better than Toyota can – thus the Tokyo giant recently buying the Osaka dwarf outright.

Toyota buys out Daihatsu

Toyota was incentivised by the prediction that the global population will grow to 10 billion within three decades, with most folk preferring urban to rural living. This means even greater space restrictions... and much smaller cars. In short, Toyota needs Daihatsu’s cleverness in this area.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Japan reports that the next intended acquisition for Toyota is another highly accomplished maker of small vehicles – Suzuki, which is sending a ‘thanks, not interested’ message back. Suzuki is the world’s eighth largest car maker and on course to take the number seven slot from Ford. It’s had flings with VW and GM, but seems happiest doing what it does best – making fine, sensibly priced small cars and 4x4s – on its own.

Advertisement - Article continues below

In reality, there’s no sense in Suzuki selling out to Toyota, which already has Daihatsu in its stable. More acquisitions like this and there could be accusations of a Toyota-inspired small car monopoly.

Best small cars

Still on global motor industry matters, Iran continues to build one million vehicles a year, still resides in the global top 20 and wants to grow as a car-producing nation. Peugeot and Renault have lately been enthusing about assisting further. As has GKN, which admitted to me that its significant contracts with Iran remain intact. True, they’ve been dormant in recent years, but with happier times and greater political stability in the country, those contracts need not much more than a wash and brush-up before they’re fully active again.

Fingers crossed. Although Iran is only four places behind the UK in the world top 20. And we wouldn’t want it overtaking us. Would we?

What do you think of Toyota's plans to dominate the small car world? Let us know in the comments...

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Daihatsu launches four new concept cars at Tokyo
Daihatsu WakuWaku - front
Daihatsu

Daihatsu launches four new concept cars at Tokyo

Japanese manufacturer Daihatsu has released a raft of concepts at its home motor show this year, based on the theme of “gathering”
23 Oct 2019
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020
'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'
News

'Costs may drop, but buyers’ expectations don’t'

Just because premium brands can offer cheap finance deals, it doesn't mean that they can fob buyers off with poor customer service, says Deputy editor…
15 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New 2020 Ford Puma ST teased for the first time
Ford Puma

New 2020 Ford Puma ST teased for the first time

The sporty new Ford Puma ST will make its debut later this year, with the same 197bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine as the Fiesta ST
3 Jul 2020
New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS line-up completed as petrol and diesel models arrive

Skoda has unwrapped the complete Octavia line-up, which now offers a choice of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid powertrains
3 Jul 2020
New Vauxhall Corsa-e 2020 review
Vauxhall Corsa-e hatchback

New Vauxhall Corsa-e 2020 review

The all-electric Vauxhall Corsa-e boasts up to 134bhp and a 209-mile range, but rivals offer better value for money
3 Jul 2020