Daihatsu reveals Miata-fighting roadster and more for Tokyo Mobility Show

Daihatsu reveals Miata-fighting roadster and more for Tokyo Mobility Show

Daihatsu left the U.S. market way back in 1992, but the brand is still going strong in Japan. The company is wholly owned by Toyota now and specializes in building kei cars and trucks, a special class of lightweight compact city cars. These days most kei vehicles are sensible rectangles to maximize passenger or cargo space inside the strict footprint allowed allowed by the class, but Daihatsu proves some fun can still be had. 

And few of the concepts say that more than the Daihatsu Vision Copen (pictured at top). Design-wise it’s a modern interpretation of the original Copen roadster introduced in 2002, with almost identical overall shape and round head and taillights. However, the original was more of an open top cruiser with practical front-wheel-drive layout.

The Vision Copen, on the other hand, is rear-wheel-drive, showing muscular flared wheel arches that the original never did. It’s powered by a 1.3-liter engine running on carbon-neutral fuel (whatever that means), a displacement that exceeds kei car regulations. So does the Vision Copen’s footprint, which measures 150 inches long and 67 inches wide, almost the size of the Mazda Miata. It would be amazing if Daihatsu actually produced this car, even though it wouldn’t be legal to import until 2049 or so, because the world definitely needs more rear-drive sports cars. 

Then comes the me:MO, described as a car that will stay with the owner through many stages of life. It looks to be comprised of modular body panels. It’s a trick Daihatsu has actually put on a production car, the Copen roadster, with composite fenders and doors that can be swapped with those of different shape or color. The me:MO appears to be an electric vehicle that has modular components on the inside as well, but the company has not released full details just yet. 

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The Daihatsu Uniform is the distilled essence of the kei car. Boxy and utilitarian but still exuding a bit of funkiness in the design, it was built to accommodate the working men and women of Japan. Vehicles like this usually serve as cargo haulers in dense urban areas where they can fit down extremely narrow alleys. The name derives from the fact that these workers are required to wear uniforms as they deliver everything from Amazon packages to food. The Uniform comes in two flavors, a cargo van and a truck. 

The Daihatsu Osanpo is an open-top kei car built for leisurely cruising. The driving experience is described as that of enjoying a stroll through nature with a pleasant breeze and unhurried pace. It’s not every day that a car is marketed with a comparison to walking, but the idea is to enjoy the scenery that a convertible can provide.

Daihatsu will likely release more information on all these vehicles as we edge closer to the Tokyo Motor Show, which has now been rebranded as the Tokyo Mobility Show. The show opens on October 26, 2023. 

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