"Daihatsu Hijet (1960-2011): A Comprehensive Encyclopedia Entry"

July 3, 2023 1:08 PM

1960-2011 Daihatsu Hijet

The 1960-2011 Daihatsu Hijet is a versatile kei truck and microvan series produced by the Japanese automaker Daihatsu. Originating in the Japanese domestic market (JDM), the Hijet has gained popularity worldwide due to its compact size, exceptional maneuverability, and efficient performance. Over the years, Daihatsu continuously improved and upgraded the Hijet, making it a prominent player in the light commercial vehicle segment.

Evolution of the Daihatsu Hijet

The Daihatsu Hijet made its debut in 1960 as a kei truck, a vehicle category specifically designed to meet Japanese road regulations and tax benefits. Its compact dimensions and lightweight construction made it an ideal choice for navigating Japan's narrow streets and congested urban areas. The first-generation Hijet featured a two-cylinder engine with a minimal displacement of 360cc, delivering adequate power for city driving.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Daihatsu introduced several notable upgrades to the Hijet. The second-generation models, launched in 1971, featured a more powerful three-cylinder engine and offered an expanded range of body configurations, including pickups, vans, and microbuses. These improvements propelled the Hijet's popularity within Japan and established its reputation for versatility and reliability.

In the 1990s, Daihatsu continued to refine the Hijet by introducing various technological advancements. The fourth-generation models, released in 1994, showcased improved fuel efficiency, safety features, and enhanced driving dynamics. The introduction of fuel injection technology further enhanced the Hijet's performance, making it more responsive and environmentally friendly.

In 1999, Daihatsu introduced the fifth-generation Hijet, featuring a modern and streamlined design. This generation marked a significant shift towards advanced safety features, including dual airbags, ABS (anti-lock braking system), and reinforced crash structures. Furthermore, the engine lineup expanded to incorporate more powerful and efficient options.

As the 2000s progressed, Daihatsu continued to improve the Hijet's efficiency and environmental performance. The sixth-generation models, introduced in 2004, featured innovative engine technologies, such as the KF-VE and KF-DET engines, which increased power output while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. These developments ensured that the Hijet remained compliant with stricter emission standards.

Features and Specifications

The Hijet's compact size is one of its defining features. Measuring around 3.4 meters long and 1.48 meters wide, the Hijet can effortlessly maneuver through tight city streets and fit into small parking spaces. Its compact dimensions also make it a popular choice for individuals and small businesses that demand a practical and nimble commercial vehicle.

Daihatsu Hijet models come with various body configurations, including standard and high-roof vans, pickups, microbuses, and even deck vans with foldable sides. This versatility allows owners to choose a model that suits their specific needs, whether it's transporting cargo, accommodating passengers, or adapting it for recreational purposes.

Powering the Hijet is a range of small displacement engines, primarily designed to meet kei car regulations. Engine sizes vary between generation and model, ranging from 550cc to 660cc, with both naturally aspirated and turbocharged options. Although the horsepower figures might seem modest, the Hijet's lightweight construction ensures lively acceleration and excellent fuel efficiency.

Designed with the driver in mind, the Hijet's interior prioritizes functionality and ergonomics. Despite its compact size, the cabin offers ample adjustability and storage compartments for enhanced comfort and convenience. Additionally, the cab-over layout provides excellent visibility and maneuverability, making it effortless to navigate crowded urban environments and tight corners.

Legacy and Global Influence

While primarily designed for the Japanese domestic market, the Daihatsu Hijet's popularity spread beyond Japan's borders. Its practical design, efficient performance, and versatile nature made it an attractive option in various international markets, particularly in regions where urban driving conditions and road regulations favor compact vehicles.

The Hijet's entry into global markets opened up opportunities for small businesses, fleet operators, and individuals seeking affordable and reliable transportation solutions. Its reliability and ease of maintenance ensured that the Hijet remained a trustworthy workhorse, capable of enduring demanding tasks while keeping operational costs low.

Over the course of its production from 1960 to 2011, the Daihatsu Hijet evolved with the changing demands of the automotive industry. Its longevity and continuous improvements solidified its position as a respected and trusted vehicle for micro-transportation. Although the Hijet's production ended in 2011, its influence can still be seen in contemporary ultra-compact commercial vehicles.

In conclusion, the 1960-2011 Daihatsu Hijet is a legendary kei truck and microvan series that played a crucial role in Daihatsu's success. From its humble beginnings in the JDM to its global influence, the Hijet's compact size, versatility, and efficient performance have made it an icon in the micro-transportation segment.