Daihatsu has unveiled three small 660 cc minicar concepts at the Tokyo motor show.
The Japanese firm has a 30 per cent share of its native K-car market, the largest of any firm displaying at the show.
Leading the way is the e:s, a neat two-door hatch that looks like a smaller version of BMW’s Mini. The design of the 3100mm e:s looks production-ready but Daihatsu is not even thinking yet of whether to build it. It has a new two-cylinder 660cc engine and can return 85mpg.
The Japanese manufacturer is concentrating on an eco theme with its concepts, but hybrids are too complex, heavy and costly, and diesels out of the question, so Daihatsu has decided to go another way to improve economy and reduce C02 emissions.
One is to make the car physically smaller and lighter, so the e:s comes in 300mm shorter than a normal 660cc mini and is impressively light at just 700kg.
By refining its existing three-cylinder technology, Daihatsu has also been able to have the e:s deliver 30 km/l (85mpg) in Japan’s 10.15-mode fuel cycle, exactly the same as Honda’s hybrid-powered Insight.
If the e:s shows Daihatsu’s thinking for future small cars, then the Deca Deca is more of the traditional Tokyo show car. One Daihatsu official described it as a "toolbox". Not meant to be entirely sensible, it is entertaining and the theme with this small utilitarian 3395mm MPV is cabin space and how to rejig it to suit the occasion.
Deca Deca also revives the fold-out doors idea of the classic VW Kombi and comes with three-cylinder turbo power, CVT and front-drive. It's a K-car mini van with asymmetric doors like a Mini Clubman; there's a rear-hinged door on one side and a postbox slot-like window on the other.
It has a totally flat floor with seats that run on tracks and fold up into the sides. A huge rear door eases access, as does a low load level. The interior roof height is 1400mm, while a large TV is built into the interior.
The Japanese are also big on French chic and one look at the Basket may remind some of the Citroen Mehari from the 1970s.
Based on the Mira, Daihatsu’s main 660cc player in Japan, the Basket is converted to four-wheel drive, seats up to four and has a resolutely plain, no frills interior. It's built on the firm's FF platform and also has separate front and rear roofs.
The front is fibre-reinforced polymer, the rear is made of canvas. Its rear seats fold flat and can be covered by a hinged metal plate that turns the rear into a pick-up, while the front seats can also be folded flat to further boost interior space.