A microvan and a pickup truck manufactured and introduced by Daihatsu in 1960. Although, there are found similarities between the Hijet and Toyota’s naming approach for their trucks and vans (Hilux or Hiace), Daihatsu has been using the name Hijet for their kei trucks and vans more than two decades before the arrival of Toyota. The term ‘Hijet’ seems very identical to the ‘Midget’, when transliterated into Japanese. Midget is the name of Daihatsu’s other mini-truck. The major competitors of Hijet in Japan include the Honda Acty, Subaru Sambar, Suzuki Carry and Mitsubishi Minicab.
The first production unit of Hijet came with a 360 cc 2-stroke engine under the prevailing kei car regulations at the time. As the regulations revised, Hijet saw certain modifications and changes accordingly. For instance, the engine displacement was increased to 550 cc in 1976 followed by the introduction of 660 cc engine. As for exterior dimensions, these were increased from 3 x 1.3 meter to 3.4 x 1,475 meter.
As of 2006, the engine offered were the DVVT equipped 660 cc EF-VE rated at 52 hp (39 kW) at 7000 rpm and torque of 46 lb-ft (63 Nm) at 4000 rpm and 660 cc EF-SE rated at 44 hp (33 kW) at 5900 rpm and torque of 42 lb-ft (57 Nm) at 3600 rpm. Its base model is available as a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive. However, an all-wheel drive version is also offered. With the launch of ninth generation of Hijet in 1999, the truck and the van versions branched off. The mid-engined cabover design was kept for the truck version, while the van became a front-engined semicab design. Although, the Hijet Cargo has entered into its tenth generation, the ninth generation for the truck still remains in the market.
The passenger vehicle version of the Hijet is marketed as Daihatsu Atrai in the Japanese market. It is equipped with a 660 cc turbo engine rated at 64 bhp (48 kW).
A brand called the Diehatzu Hijets paid homage to the original Daihatsu Hijet.
Apart from original Daihatsu Hijet, there are several different versions also offered in different markets. These 1.0-L and 1.3-L versions are usually larger and wider and so don’t fall in the kei car class. Some of the early variants include Hijet Maxx/Hijet Jumbo, a pickup truck or chassis cab. Another variant is known as Daihatsu Zebra (also called Daihatsu Citivan, Daihatsu Devan, and Daihatsu Zebra Espass), a van version of Hijet Maxx. The Malaysian partner of Daihatsu, the Perodua also sell a rebadged version of Zebra as Perodua Rusa. Hijet Gran Cargo was another version of 9th generation Hijet rather larger in size and offered in Japan. Another export variant is known as Extol.
Another licensed version called the Piaggio Porter has been in production since 1992. It is assembled in Italy and powered with diesel, LPG or electric motor. It receives a 1.0-L petrol or 1.2-L diesel engine. The most recent models come with 1269 cc petrol or 1371 cc diesel versions.
The Hijet Cargo Hybrid concept was revealed for the first time in 2002. It was a hybrid van featuring a 660 cc engine. It is basically built on the current non-hybrid Hijet Cargo and is regarded as the mild hybrid design by Daihatsu itself due to its unique design known as the Daihatsu Mild Hybrid System or DMHS which is derived from the Toyota hybrid technology. The design incorporates both the assembled gas and electric powered components in single unit. It is 30 percent more fuel efficient with its electric motor lays between the transmission unit and gasoline powered engine.
The FEV, Ultra Fuel Economy and Atrai Hybrid-IV are the three hybrid minicars that were launched as concept hybrid minicars in 2002. It was proclaimed that the cars will go into production by October 2004.