It’s been a quiet 2021 for Japan’s small car champion, Daihatsu Motor Company still not having launched any fresh models. This is highly unusual but also means that much new metal will begin to be released fairly soon.

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As at the end of August, DMC was managing to stay ahead of Honda, retaining third place (just) with year to date Japanese market sales of 409,159 versus 409,046. Ahead of both was, as always, Suzuki (430,944) and the Toyota brand (1,028,194). Nissan remains a distant fifth (315,647).

The likely next new vehicle to be launched in Daihatsu’s home market will be the replacement for the Wake. Like most of the brand’s models in Japan, this five-door hatchback is a Kei-category mini-vehicle. DMC also supplies a version of the tall 660 cc vehicle to its major shareholder, that car being the Toyota Pixis Mega. These date to late 2014 and early 2015 respectively.

Also expected by year end are replacements for the Cast and Cast Activa. Available in Japan from September 2015, combined they challenge the Suzuki Hustler, a 660 cc crossover. A version of the Cast is also supplied to Toyota: the Pixis Joy.

Second generations of the Thor and Thor Custom should follow in 2022. Unlike the Wake, these are examples of non-Kei models although at only 3.7 m long, they are almost as tiny. Daihatsu also manufactures two closely related models, the Tank and Roomy, for Toyota and one for Subaru, the Justy. Each is a mini-MPV powered by a turbocharged 1.0-litre engine.

Something else which should happen next year is a facelift for the brand’s best seller in Japan (1 Jan-31 Aug deliveries: 85,371). The fourth generation Tanto (and Tanto Custom derivative) appeared in July 2019 and will likely remain in production at the Nakatsu and Shiga plants until the end of 2024.

Both normally aspirated and turbocharged 658cc engines are available for this small hatchback model. As for the Custom, this has a sportier, more aggressive front end and a modified interior.

Mystery surrounds DMC’s strategy for electrifying its domestic line-up of cars, crossovers and SUVs. No doubt guided by TMC’s caution in the same area, electric Daihatsus may not appear in big numbers until perhaps mid-decade.

Nonetheless, with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors launching e-Kei cars in 2022, the Osaka-based OEM can’t afford to be left behind. The same applies to Suzuki, another laggard when it comes to EVs. We should therefore see an electric Daihatsu mini-model either next year or in 2023.

The Altis is at the other end of the size scale. Built by Toyota, this is a Camry Hybrid with minor modifications. Deliveries of the existing generation commenced in July 2017 and there was a facelift earlier in 2021. The next Altis is due in mid-2024.

As Indonesia is one of only a small number of countries where the brand has a worthwhile presence, it’s worth also mentioning the (locally built) Sigra. Likely to be replaced in 2023 or 2024, this is an MPV/crossover mash-up.

First seen at the Jakarta motor show in August 2016, the Sigra is more or less the same model as the Calya, which is produced for Toyota. Each is 4,070 mm long, 1,655 mm wide and 1,600 mm tall. The platform is DMC’s DNGA and build takes place at the company’s Sunter plant.


Having sold 220,163 cars last year, Malaysia’s number one OEM, which is controlled by Daihatsu, said at the start of 2021 that it was aiming for 240,000 this year. And while the market is experiencing the same volatility as others (Covid, microchips), at least Perodua has a key new addition to its range.

The Ativa is the ASEAN country’s latest ‘national car’. Announced in March, this 4,065 mm long SUV is basically a Daihatsu Rocky/Toyota Raize with a few styling changes at the front and rear ends. Perodua also modified the body in other way: there is a steel tailgate in place of the composite fitted to the Japanese market’s Raize and Rocky. The sole engine is a 1.0-litre petrol turbo.

A nine-year life cycle is expected for the Ativa, and that means a facelift in 2025.

From the newest model to the oldest: the Alza is another Toyota/Daihatsu/Perodua joint venture vehicle. Build first began during October 2009. This small hatchback is a version of the former Toyota Passo Sette/Daihatsu Boon Luminas twins. A successor should be launched by year-end.

Next year there will almost certainly be styling updates and interior revisions for a couple of other models, these being the Aruz, a seven-seat crossover, and the Myvi, a small hatchback derived from the Daihatsu Boon. We may also see replacements for the Bezza and Axia. Details can be found in PLDB.

Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of Just Auto. That includes Daihatsu and Perodua models not detailed in this report.

Future platform intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of GlobalData’s Automotive Intelligence Center.

This was the second in a series of reports looking into what’s likely to be ahead for TMC and DMC’s brands. The strategy for Lexus was published recently and an exploration of future Toyota models is soon to appear on Just-Auto.com.