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Daihatsu Exhibits 11 Concept Cars at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2017

Kei cars are as strange as a wedding without a bridegroom for the American and European public. Born out of necessity after Japan lost its imperial prominence following World War II, kei cars continue to sell by the bucketload in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Daihatsu Tokyo Auto Salon 2017 exhibits 15 photos
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First and foremost, they’re cheaper to buy and cheaper to tax than conventional automobiles, as in every sort of vehicle bigger than the Volkswagen up!. What’s more, kei cars are frugal, easy to park, and straightforward to drive thanks to the popularity of the continuously variable transmission in Japan. While late to the party when the kei car came to be, Toyota-owned Daihatsu is now a huge player in this vehicle segment.

It was to be expected, then, that Daihatsu wouldn’t prepare a full-blooded supercar or a gas-guzzling SUV for the upcoming Tokyo Auto Salon, slated to open its doors to the public in January 2017. The question is, what could Daihatsu exhibit there, i.e. something more exciting than its production cars? An idea was thrown around during a higher-ups meeting, which I believe it went something like this: “Why don’t we customize our existing models in funky ways? It's cheap, it's cool, so let's do it!” And so, they got cracking.

No less than 11 custom kei cars resulted, ranging from an aesthetically-challenged Tanto to the angriest Copen I’ve ever seen. The Boon hatchback and the Canbus mini-wagon are just are dramatic, partly thanks to gold-painted wheels that remind me of a time when the Subaru WRX STI was still called an Impreza and a Scottish guy named Colin McRae was still around.

In related news, mothership Toyota and underling Daihatsu will soon form an in-house company with a name unlike any other. The Emerging-market Compact Car Company will go online next year, but not as a distinct brand.

Instead, the ECCC will address Toyota’s lack of talent at selling cars in emerging markets by establishing “processes untethered by conventional practices and rules and to introduce competitive ever-better cars based on Daihatsu's approach to manufacturing affordable, high-quality products.”

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