Daihatsu Copen - Click above for high-res image gallery

Though its existence in the American market was short-lived and ended in 1992, Daihatsu still has a presence in as many as 37 countries today. The Japanese company sells a range of vehicles from the hard-top convertible Copen (above) to a 7 passenger version of its Terios SUV. Its vehicles are decidedly on the small side but despite already being quite stingy with fuel, they may soon be joined by some models that will use no gas at all. Company president Teruyuki Minoura says that if they can find batteries of high enough quality, they will make some all-electric mini vehicles. In fact, they've already sent some of their engineers over to Toyota, which has held a controlling interest in Daihatsu since 1999, to learn more about integrating batteries in the cars. Sounds like they're pretty confident about finding these elusive electron holders.

But why not go the hybrid route like Toyota? According to Minoura,
We cannot equip our current minivehicles with hybrid components. It would only add to the weight and would not be eco-friendly as a whole.
While that answer may sound reasonable, it might be noted that the Toyota Auris is not exactly gargantuan but there will be a hybrid version of it. Indeed, Daihatsu itself has a mild hybrid version of its Hijet mini cargo van. Whatever the reasons behind the decision, we're happy enough they're going to have fuel free models and look forward to seeing what they come up with. Check out a some of their current range in the gallery below to get an idea of Daihatsu's styling language.

[Source: Nikkei via Green Car Congress]

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