As Usual, The Only Good Car Company Is Daihatsu

So many things in life tend to, if given enough time, disappoint. That’s why it’s so important to really appreciate those few, precious things that are truly consistent and reliable. One of those things are Daihatsu’s concept cars, which never fail to delight, and I’m happy to say that streak has not been broken this year. Check out what they’re bringing to the show.

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There’s four concepts this year, and it seems they’re named, with repeated words, in a manner that, in Japanese at least, sounds like the scientific names of animals: Ico Ico, Tsumu Tsumu, Wai Wai, and Waku Waku. At least that’s what I’m told, and it sounds plausible enough for Daihatsu.

Let’s look at the concept that sounds a bit like noted influential comic Fozzie Bear’s catchphrase, or perhaps the sound a wild Pac-Man makes while moving: Waku Waku.

This appears to be a Kei-class boxy SUV, perhaps a competitor to the amazing Suzuki Jimny, but being a concept, Dahauitsu is able to make the Waku Waku that much extra. Check this out:

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Hot damn, look at that. With all those compartments and panels and storage bins, this thing is like one of those Victorian travel wardrobes sexily mated with a sporty hiking boot.

I love that in-roof storage compartment, and that rear door/tailgate/bench combo. The orange-and-blue-gray color scheme is so much up my alley I’m going to charge it rent and make it take out the recycling, too. Are the rear side window-replacing storage containers removable? I love it.

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Next up is Wai Wai, which to me feels like a modernized Fiat 600 Multipla. It’s bigger than Kei size, and appears to be able to seat six in three rows of two, with each seat foldable for flexible cargo space:

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Sliding doors, twin canvas sunroofs, a striking two-tone graphical look—it’s practical and fun all at the same time.

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That triangular B-pillar is interesting, too. You see the Multipla influence, right?

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I sure do. I don’t understand why cars like these aren’t the go-to default instead of crossovers. It seems so much more flexible and useful for, you know, life.

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Tsumu Tsumu is a small truck that seems to be targeted at the large Japanese domestic work truck market, but, true to Diahatsu’s magic everything, has some really novel design concepts baked in. Look at the cabin door design here:

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Each side has two doors, with a smaller rear door providing refrigerator door-style storage and extra access to behind-seat stowage. The cabin is open and spacious for such a small vehicle, too.

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The bed is a flatbed design, and appears to be engineered to take these modular pod-like units, for cargo or a camper or whatever. Like a big “drone unit.” This thing looks very useful, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a truck with the bedliner material that continues up the rear of the cab and onto the roof.

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Asymmetrical steering wheel, too.

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Last up, and likely the least likely to be able to be production-ready, is Ico Ico, a concept for an autonomous last-mile people mover complete with what looks to be a little robot assistant.

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Ico Ico looks to be equipped to handle wheelchairs and, I suppose, other small vehicles like scooters. I’m not exactly sure what the robot does, but my guess is if the shuttle was being pursued by a TIE fighter, it could help adjust power to shields or something.

Of course, you’ll have about as much chance of seeing any of these in America as you’ll have of seeing a goat you knew in high school having his screenplay about growing up a goat in a human high school made into a Netflix series. Still, I’m just happy that Daihatsu is out there, doing what they do.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)