Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd., trading as Daihatsu, is one of the oldest surviving Japanese internal combustion engine manufacturers, later known for its range of smaller kei models and off-road vehicles. The headquarters are located in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation since August 2016.

Daihatsu was formed in 1951 as a successor to Hatsudoki Seizo Co. Ltd, founded in 1907, as part of Hatsudoki’s major restructure. Hatsudoki’s formation was largely influenced by the Engineering Department’s faculty of Osaka University, to develop a gasoline-powered engine for small, stationary power plants. From the beginning of the company until 1930, when a prototype three-wheeler truck was considered and proposed, Hatsudoki’s focus was largely steam engines for Japanese National Railways and included rail carriages for passenger transportation. The company then focused on railroad diesel engines, working with Niigata Engineering, and Shinko Engineering Co., Ltd. Before the company began to manufacture automobiles, their primary Japanese competitor was Yanmar for diesel engines that weren’t installed in a commercial truck to provide motivation.

During the 1960s, Daihatsu began exporting its range to Europe, where it did not have major sales success until well into the 1980s. In Japan, many of Daihatsu’s models are also known as kei jid?sha (or kei cars).

Daihatsu was an independent auto maker until Toyota became a major shareholder in 1967 as the Japanese government intended to open up the domestic market. According to Toyota, it was first approached by Sanwa Bank, banker of Daihatsu. In 1995, Toyota increased its shareholding in the Company from 16.8 percent to 33.4 percent by acquiring shares from other shareholders: banks and insurance companies. At the time, the Company was producing mini-vehicles and some small cars under contract for Toyota. Toyota, by owning more than a one-third stake, would be able to veto shareholder resolutions at the annual meeting. In 1998, Toyota increase its holding in the Company to 51.2 percent by purchasing shares from its major shareholders including financial institutions.

In January 2011, Daihatsu announced that it would pull out of Europe by 2013, citing the persistently strong yen, which makes it difficult for the company to make a profit from its export business. Following the financial crisis Daihatsu’s sales in Europe plummeted, from 58,000 in 2007 to 12,000 in 2011. In August 2016, Daihatsu became a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation.