Manufacturers name: Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd
Headquarters country: Japan
Daihatsu Motor Company began in 1907 as the Hatsudoki Seizo Company. Famous for its Kie car, a kind of Japanese small vehicle, the company sells its mini and microcars in more than 120 countries around the world. An impressive lineup of small passenger cars, trucks, and utility vehicles ranks it among Japan's top ten car companies. A part of the Toyota Motor Corporation since 1967, the company has continued to specialize in mini vehicles.
Daihatsu expanded exports to Europe in the 60’s. This effort showed little reward until the late 1980’s. In 1986, Daihatsu America Incorporated opened with the hope of capitalizing on the growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. American consumers were introduced to the Charade three-door hatchback and a small sport utility vehicle called the Rocky. These vehicles featured air conditioning and compact disk player for about half the average price of a new car during this time. Despite high ratings in customer satisfaction, the Japanese carmaker struggled because of stiff competition, a sudden drop in fuel prices, a recession in the 1990’s, and costly safety and emission rules. More than this, the company failed to gain any real brand recognition. Some even called the company "Daihatsu-who". A $14 million loss in 1992, spelled the end for the presence of Daihatsu in the US. The car makers problems were not just confined to the American market. The 1997 Asian financial crisis forced the company out of Thailand in 1998. A strong Yen and tougher CO2 rules forced Daihatsu out of the European market in 2013.
Despite these difficulties, Daihatsu continues to pursue two main strategies: development of new technologies and entering emerging markets. The company has a long history of research in electric and hybrid vehicles. Designs for an electric car began in 1965 with an unveiling the very next year. Demand for electric vehicles grew in Japan. The company developed electric applications for golf carts, newspaper, and milk delivery vehicles, and security patrol cars. While many carmakers have just started development of electric cars, Daihatsu has working models with proven track records. This gave the company a leadership role in low-cost electric vehicles.
Despite failures in some markets, Daihatsu experienced great success in others. China is a good example. In the 1980’s the Japanese carmaker began a joint venture with the Chinese company, Tianjin Automobile Industry Group. This new company became the largest carmaker in China in 1996. Partnerships have also been formed with Malaysian and Vietnamese carmakers. This success in emerging markets and growing demand for more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles places Daihatsu in a good position for future growth and expansion.
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