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( 1. Re-badging; 2. Snippets; 3. Quirky Names; 4. Timeline; )
[ Re-badging / Badge Engineering ]
Rebadging sometimes called badge engineering is endemic in Japan, no more so than with kei cars, especially the later one’s. It applies when alterations are made to a manufacturers badge, logo or manufacturers name / marque to an existing product and then subsequently marketing the variant as a distinct product.
Due to the high cost of designing and engineering a new model or establishing a brand, which may take many years to gain acceptance, it is much less expensive to rebadge a product than create one. The costs of product development and manufacturing tools are therefore spread over more vehicles, resulting in greater economies of scale.
The term originated with the practise of replacing an automobile’s emblem or badge in order to create a new model. Besides badges and emblems, minor styling differences can occur such as differences to head and tail lights, front and rear facias, and outer body skins. More extreme examples often involve using different engines and drivetrains.
Today, Mazda sell rebadged Suzuki’s, Subaru and Toyota offer rebadged Daihatsu’s, and Nissan offer rebadged Mitsubishi’s and Suzuki’s.
(The sign ‘ > ‘ is used to mean ‘is a rebadged‘…)
The Mazda AZ-550/Suzuki Cara > Autozam AZ-1. Mazda/Autozam Scrum > Suzuki Carry. Mazda AZ-Offroad > Suzuki Jimny. Mazda Carol > Suzuki Alto 6G. Mazda Flair/Wagon > Suzuki Palette/SW. Mazda Flair Custom Style > Suzuki Wagon R Stingray. Mazda Laputa > Suzuki Kei. Mazda Spiano > Suzuki Lapin / Alto. Mitsubishi Minicab > Suzuki Carry/Every. Mitsubishi Minicab > Suzuki Every. Nissan Clipper > Mitsubishi Minicab. Nissan Clipper/Clipper Rio > Mitsubishi Town Box. Nissan Dayz/Dayz Highway Star/Otti > Mitsubishi eK. Nissan Kix > Mitsubishi Pajero Mini. Nissan Pino > Suzuki Alto 6G. Nissan Roox > Suzuki Palette. Nissan Roox Highway Star > Suzuki palette SW. Subaru Lucra/Custom > Daihatsu Tanto Exe/Custom. Subaru Pleo > Daihatsu Mira. Subaru Stella 2G > Daihatsu Move. Toyota Pixis Epoch > Daihatsu Mira e:S. Toyota Pixis Joy > Daihatsu Cast. Toyota Pixis Mega > Daihatsu Wake. Toyota Pixis Space > Daihatsu Move Conte. Toyota Pixis Truck > Daihatsu Hijet. Toyota Pixis Van > Daihatsu Hijet Cargo.
(P.S. The term ‘badge engineering‘ is a bit of a misnomer, as little or no engineering takes place.)
[ Snippets ]
(The Snippets section contains items of general interest, news and kei-anecdotes etc.)
(In no particular order)
The Gasuden name, means gas powered, from ‘Gasu‘ (petrol) and ‘Den‘ (power). In America the Subaru 360 advertising slogan was ‘Cheap and Ugly does it‘ !! The name ‘Tiatro’ in the ‘Nissan Tiatro for Dayz‘ is Italian for theatre. In America, a Fuji Cabin sold at auction for $110,000 (Not even a runner) !! The ‘Dangan‘ of the Mitsubishi Dangan ZZ-4 is Japanese for ‘Bullet’. Tony Davis inducted the Cony Guppy into his ‘Motoring Hall of Shame‘. Mitsuoka described the ‘Ray’ as ‘This kind of beauty is a transcending beauty‘. The Mitsubishi Minicab was originally only sold by the retail chain ‘Galant Shop. In Manga & Anime, ‘minipato‘ is Janglish for mini patrol car !! The ’69 Subaru Young SS was nicknamed the ‘Ladybug’. The ‘Acty‘ in Honda Acty stands for ‘Activity‘. The ’71 Suzuki Fronte was designed by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. Kei-class trucks are known as ‘kei-tora‘ from ‘kei‘ meaning ‘light‘ and ‘tora‘ for ‘truck‘. Colin McRae the drove a Subaru Vivio in the ’93 round of the African Safari Rally. The Suzuki Jimny offroader is sometimes classed as a kei-truck. The Daihatsu Copen name is derived from a combination of ‘Coupé‘ and ‘Open‘. The name Mazda is derived from its founder ‘Matsuda Jūjiro’. Mitsubishi is a compound of ‘mitsu‘ (3) and ‘bishi‘ (diamond). The ’91 Honda Beat was designed by Pininfarina the Italian design company. The ‘eK’ of Mitsubishi eK stands for ‘excellent Keijidōsha‘ (excellent kei car). The Yamaha Ami based on the ‘Ferrari F40‘ was produced by YM Mobilemates. The Hope-Star Unicar slogan was ‘The people has many dreams as to the light vehicle‘ !! The ‘Sandal’ of the 1947 Auto Sandal refers to a type of shoe or flip-flop. The Honda Z was made by the Yachiyo Industry Co. The ‘N‘ in Honda N360, stands for ‘norimono‘ which is Japanese for vehicle. Mitsuoka described the ‘Ray’ as ‘like a dignified and graceful flower‘.
[ Quirky Names ]
Daihatsu Naked; Daihatsu Opti Aerodown Beex; Honda N-Box Slash; Honda That’s; Mitsubishi Minica Lettuce; Nissan Dayz Roox; Nissan Teatro for Dayz; Suzuki Every Joy Pop Turbo.
[ Kei-Timeline ]
(The Timeline is a chronological list of facts and news items as they happen)
2016 June: Daihatsu becomes a totally owned subsidiary of Toyota.
2016 May: The resignation of Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (MMC) President Tetsuro Aikawa was announced and Nissan acquired a controlling interest in MMC. It now hoped to draw a line under the fuel scandal of 2006.
2015 April 2nd: Suzuki is recalling two million vehicles across the globe, because the ignition switches may begin to smoke. This recall is limited to the Japanese, European and Australian markets. Affected vehicles were built between 1998 and 2009. There have been no reports of injuries or accidents due to the 67 reported incidents, all of which come from the Japanese market.
2015 May 30th : Honda rolls out production of the S660 roadster in Japan. The new S660 adopts the same 660cc inline-3, but spins it around to mount it amidships and adds a turbocharger. It’s got a roll-up canvas roof and a 2-tone cabin that gives driver and passenger seats of different shades. 45/55 front-rear weight distribution promises to keep it fun but friendly, with brake based torque vectoring to keep it all under control.
2012 April 6th: The Daihatsu Copen, Japan’s last kei convertible is ending production. After 10 years of production, there just aren’t enough orders coming in to justify its continued production.
2011 April 14th: 50.6% of households in Japan now own a kei car. For the first time since 1986, more than 50% of households in Japan own at least one kei category vehicle. The Japan Mini Vehicles Association (JMVA) began tracking the mini vehicles back in 1986, and this is the highest level of ownership ever. Long may it continue.
2011: Toyota launched its first minicar, the Pixis Space, a rebadged Daihatsu Move.
2006: Mitsubishi partner Nissan found discrepancies between Mistubishi information and actual fuel consumption figures while working on new kei cars for both companies, most notably the eK Wagon, eK Space, Nissan Dayz and Nissan Dayz Roox. Mitsubishi management blamed the kei car development department and after further investigation found out that this had been going on for the past 25 years and not since 2002 as previously thought.
1998 October 1st: 660cc Max power 47kW (64PS, 63hp) Passengers 4 Load 350kgs (771.6lbs).
1998 October 1st: Max Length 3.4m (11.2ft) Width 1.48m (4.9ft) Height 2m (6.6ft).
1990 – Present: 660cc era engine size begins.
1990 March: Max power 47kW (64PS, 63HP) Passengers 4 Load 350kgs (771.6lbs).
1990 March: Max Length 3.3m (10.8ft) Width 1.4m (4.6ft) Height 2m (6.6ft).
1988: Toyota buys a 51% controlling interest in Daihatsu.
1981: Total sales achieved 1,229,809 units for cars and commercials.
1980: Nearly 17% of exports went to Europe, Chile took nearly 25%.
1980: Exports climbed 80.3% (to 94,301 units), of which 77.6% were microtrucks.
1976-1990: 550cc era engine size.
1976: Exports were up 74,633 (171% year-on-year).
1976: Mazda withdrew from the kei-car market but not for commercials.
1976 January 1st: Max Length 3.2m (10.5ft) Width 1.4m (4.6ft) Height 2m (6.6ft).
1976 January 1st: Engine size increased to 550 cc Passengers 4 Max load 350kgs (771.6lbs).
1975 August 26th: Overall length and width restrictions increased by 200 mm and 100 mm.
1975: The license plate size was increased to 330×165mm yellow and black.
1975: Only 150,000 cars were made, 80% less than 1970 sales.
1974: Honda withdrew from the kei car market but not for commercials.
1970 July: Power output peaked at 40PS (29 kW, 39 hp) in the Daihatsu Fellow Max SS.
1970 January: Disc brakes first became available on the Honda Z GS.
1970: Sales increased, reaching a peak of 750,000.
1968 August: Automatic transmission first appeared in the Honda N360.
1955 May: In May 1955, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) announced a promotional program called the ‘People’s Car‘ Their executive summary of the foreseen car was described as, ‘A 4-seater with a top speed of 100 kph, priced at ¥150,000 (£1,145).’
1955 April 4th: Max Length 3m (9.8ft) Width is 1.3m (4.3ft) Height 2m (6.6ft) 360cc 4stroke.
1955: Engine size increased to 360cc for 4-strokes and 2-strokes.
1951 Aug 16th: Max Length 3m (9.8ft) Width 1.3m (4.3ft) Height 2m (6.6ft) 360cc 4str 240cc 2str.
1951: Engine size increased again.
1950 July 26th: Max Length 3m (9.8ft) Width 1.3m (4.3ft) Height 2m (6.6ft) 300cc 4str 200cc 2str.
1950: Engine size increased.
1949-1974 December 31st: The license plate size was 230mm x 125mm white and green.
1949-1975: 360cc era engine size.
1949 July 8th: Max Length is 2.5m (9.2ft) and Max Width is 1m (3.3ft) Height 2m (6.6ft).
1949: The engine size is 150cc for 4-strokes and 100cc for 2-strokes.