TOKYO -- Daihatsu Motor Co., a minicar specialist that Toyota Motor Corp. is buying, unveiled a new modular platform that will underpin its future vehicles.
The Daihatsu New Global Architecture aims to improve fuel efficiency, driveability and cost. It also lays the groundwork for deeper collaboration between the two carmakers on a new generation of vehicles.
Daihatsu executives unveiled the approach in two redesigned Japan-market-only subcompacts: the Daihatsu Boon and its rebadged twin, the Toyota Passo.
Daihatsu developed the cars long before Toyota said in January that it would spend about $3 billion to take full control of Daihatsu. Toyota already owns about 51.2 percent. Toyota expects to complete the takeover Aug. 1, in part to better penetrate emerging markets, where cheap, compact cars are popular.
The companies also want to tap Daihatsu's low-cost, lightweighting and packaging skills, developed for Japan-market minicars. "Rather than commonize parts with Toyota, commonizing parts with mini vehicles is what we're looking at," Executive Officer Toru Ueda said. "Every ¥1 and 1 gram makes a difference."
Ueda said both companies have only just started talking about future projects. But the Boon and Passo offer a peek. For example, the DNGA body combines more high-tensile steel with resin outer panels to shave weight. By extending the wheelbase and widening the tread, engineers created an interior that is roomier than that of the previous-generation vehicles, while keeping the petite exterior dimensions unchanged.