8 things you might not know about the Daihatsu Move beyond the Perodua Kenari's donor model

CY Foong · Jun 19, 2022 12:00 PM

8 things you might not know about the Daihatsu Move beyond the Perodua Kenari's donor model 01

In 2000, Perodua would launch its fourth and quirkiest model by far, the Perodua Kenari. Based on the equally quirky second-generation Daihatsu Move, the box on wheels would become a surprising success that stayed in production for nearly a decade.

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We’ve already covered the Kenari’s history when it was celebrating its 20th anniversary. This time, we’ll shine a light on the original Daihatsu that generously volunteered itself to be the practical car of the new millennium.

8 things you might not know about the Daihatsu Move beyond the Perodua Kenari's donor model 01

Your eyes are not deceiving you, the Suzuki Wagon R originally did not have a rear passenger door on the right

Much like the Daihatsu Mira that inspired the Kancil, Kelisa, and Viva, the Daihatsu Move has an interesting history that spans 27 years. It has seen 6 generations since its launch in 1995 as the rival to the Suzuki Wagon R which was launched 2 years prior.

Also read: The Daihatsu Mira story part 1: From humble kei car to Perodua Kancil

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Instead of going down the usual history route, we’ll be sharing eight facts that you can probably show off at the next Perodua Kenari owner’s meet-up.

1. The first two generations were designed by Italians

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The Daihatsu Compagno, one of the first proper Daihatsu cars, was designed by Italian carrozzeria or coachbuilder, Vignale

Daihatsu and Italian design houses go hand in hand. In fact, the Italians were very much influential in Daihatsu’s transition from commercial trucks and three-wheelers to proper cars that any average Joe Josuke can own.

Also read: The Daihatsu Mira Gino wasn’t inspired by the original Mini, but something Italian

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30 years after the Daihatsu Compagno was introduced, Daihatsu had sought another Italian to help design its boxy rival to the Wagon R. Based in Turin, Italy, I.DE.A Institute was founded in 1978 by Franco Mantegazza.

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The boxy Move and some of I.DE.A's other boxy creations (from bottom left), the Fiat Tipo, Alfa Romeo 155, and Lancia Delta

The studio had designed many Italian cars in the late 80s and 90s including the Fiat Tipo, Alfa Romeo 155, and the Lancia Delta. Perhaps the boxy designs were perfect for Daihatsu and I.DE.A were hired to pen the first generation Move.

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Despite the quirky but practical styling, the Move was a failure overseas, and yet, Daihatsu decided to give it another shot with another Italian design house. For the second generation Move, the D brand hired Italdesign Giugiaro to sculpt the shape, giving a slightly more aerodynamic milk carton look.

Also read: 8 famous car designers and their ugliest creations

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Once again, the L900 Move failed to *ahem* move sales in the West and Daihatsu would stop offering the Move there. No matter though, as the second-gen Move is already facing popularity in Malaysia and in Japan where it would continue for another 4 more generations.

2. There are female-focused variants

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Just like the Mira, the Move couldn't escape the Hello Kitty treatment though it's a bit more subtle

Besides the standard Move, Daihatsu offered multiple variants for its tallboy kei car much like its shorter sibling, the Mira. Each of these variants sports a very distinctive design and, in some cases, it felt like an entirely different model.

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The most famous of which is the Move Aerodown Custom which like the Mira Moderno, Gino, and Avy for the Kancil, Kelisa, and Viva, is equally desirable among Perodua fans. The sportier variants of the Move are the main inspirations behind the later Kenari variants, especially the Kenari RS.

Also read: The Daihatsu Mira story part 2: Kelisa, Viva, and beyond

But what few people knew was the Move Latte, a variant that was mainly targeted at women in their late twenties and early thirties who would frequent cafes. It has a softer and rounder exterior design while the interior comes in two colours – Warm Apricot and Clean Ivory.

Also read: Designed for women? How the Toyota Passo Sette turned from flop into the Perodua Alza?

Production for the Move Latte ended in 2009 after 5 years with 152,128 units being built making it quite a stir among the buyers who might be matching the intended demographic. It was replaced by the Move Conte, a retro-looking box on wheels which was appropriate since the name is derived from ‘container’.

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The Move Conte proved to be even more popular than the Move Latte with more than 260,000 units built until 2017. It would be replaced by the Move Canbus, yet another retro-looking model with a sliding door and is also marketed towards females.

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For those crushing on Miku-chan as their waifu, there is an option to be greeted with her voice every time you get in

Besides women, the Move Canbus seems to also be marketed towards anime fans with a couple of exclusive Hatsune Miku versions that featured every otaku's favourite teal-haired vocaloid.

3. Some parts of the third-gen Move are interchangeable with the Perodua Viva

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Can you tell the Move from the Viva?

A common conversion method used by Perodua Viva owners is to turn them into a Mira Avy. However, there are a few owners that have transformed their Vivas into a Daihatsu Move.

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The upright design of the Viva made it almost perfect as a Move poser and both the L250 Mira and L150 Move shared a similar platform. Perhaps it’s due to this similarity that some owners sought to be different in their conversion methods.

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Don't worry, this one's the real deal

So the next time you see what might be a Daihatsu Move on the road, pay attention as it might really be a Perodua Viva in disguise.

4. The fourth-gen Move had two different designs depending on the variant

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Regular 4th-gen Move (top) and Move Custom (bottom)

The Move has always been associated with a box-shaped design but with the fourth generation, that whole boxy familiarity has been thrown aside in favour of an ovoid shape. The box hasn’t entirely disappeared, though.

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On the Move Custom, there was a slight protruding front hood and a different front grille design. The differences between the two continued in the rear with the placement of the license plates - on the rear bumper in the regular Move while on the tailgate for the Move Custom.

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Later on, the Move Custom received a more obvious hood design in the update, nearly eliminating the controversial egg shape of the standard Move. Daihatsu would bring back the boxy look on the subsequent generations of the Move and normalcy is restored to the tallboy.

5. The Move was one of the first kei cars to be equipped with ADAS

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The fifth-generation LA100 Move brought back the familiar boxy shape and was also a marvel in safety features. The CVT variants were also among the first cars to be equipped with a stop-start system which became a norm for many modern cars.

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At the time of the LA100’s launch in 2010, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) were mostly available on larger and more luxurious cars. A few regular cars come equipped with the safety suite and even if they were offered, it was only for the highest variants.

Though the stop-start system was introduced at launch, it would take a couple of years for the Move to be equipped with ADAS, a first in the kei vehicle class. The 2012 update would see the introduction of the Intelligent Driving Assist Pack which would be an option for all LA100 Move variants.

Also read: What is ADAS and why do we need them in our cars?

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The higher Custom RS variant meanwhile would see this pack available as standard which includes autonomous emergency brakes (AEB), lane-keep assist (LKA), and all-speed radar cruise control. These features would eventually become a norm for new cars in the next decade, but the Move was the first to show how far safety technology has truly trickled down to buyers.

6. There is a Subaru-badged twin

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Subaru's line-up of Daihatsu OEM kei cars

Though Subaru is more known for its all-wheel-drive crossovers and rally fighters, in Japan, there is a line-up of rebadged Daihatsu kei cars. Aside from the Mira e:S-based Pleo and the Tanto-based Chiffon, there is also the Subaru Stella which is based on the Move.

Also read: AWD or 4WD – do you need it?

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The Stella was initially an original Subaru model but looking at it, you might not even think it’s worthy of a Star of Pleides badge. Still, it had one very eccentric quirk despite looking like a generic kei tallboy – there was a supercharged variant.

Also read: Meet the kawaii Kei sports cars of the nineties

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This baby will certainly fly!

Bear in mind, this was a kei car so that supercharger was paired to a 660-cc engine (64 PS/93 Nm) but Subaru would present a concept tuned by STi that boosted power to 108 PS!

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As Subaru decided to focus on the more lucrative overseas market, it made a deal with Daihatsu (and parent Toyota) to rebadge some models as OEMs (original equipment manufacturer). The first Move-based Stella would be introduced in 2011 with a design that was essentially similar to the Daihatsu.

Also read: 12 of the weirdest rebadges ever – From a Chinese Gen.2 to a German Hilux

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This rebadge continues with the current third-gen Stella which was launched shortly after the sixth-gen Move in late 2014. Subaru was on the short end of the stick when it came to the number of variants offered with only 3 compared to the Move’s 9.

7. It was rebadged in China and was also sold in America as an EV

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Credit: Car Brochure Addict

Perodua wasn’t the only carmaker that produced the Daihatsu Move under license. The second-generation Move was also rebadged by the FAW Group from China as the Huali Happy Messenger from 2003 to 2006.

Also read: 40 years ago China can’t even CKD a car, how did they overtake Proton and Perodua?

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Tianjin Huali Dafa (top) and Huali Dario (bottom)

The Huali brand’s specialty in compact cars also saw two other Daihatsu models being selected to undergo Chinese rebadges, the Hijet which was called the Huali Dafa, and the Terios which was renamed the Huali Dario.

Also read: How did the Perodua Kembara conquered Malaysians’ love for the SUV?

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Looks like Confucious' spirit lives on in the Happy Messenger's brochure copy

The Huali Happy Messenger was powered by a 1.0-litre engine that made 55 PS but it's unlikely to be the same 1.0-litre DOHC EJ-DE engine that was found in the Kenari (54 PS/88 Nm). Unlike the Kenari, the Happy Messenger was only offered with a 5-speed manual transmission.

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Eastern European-spec FAW Angel shown

The Happy Messenger was also exported overseas to Egypt and a few Eastern European nations under a slightly less funny-sounding name, FAW Angel. Though sales would be discontinued in China, production soldiered on, this time for the American market.

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Miles Electric Vehicles was founded in 2004 by Miles Rubin and was mainly based in Los Angeles. The company gained prominence when it offered the Miles ZX40 which would be the first street-legal Chinese car sold in the United States.

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The ZX40 and its subsequent updates were a lot more liveable compared to other offerings by these American EV start-ups of the mid-2000s which looked like golf carts at best or glorified tricycles at worst. The later ZX40S was powered by a 72-volt system with a range of up to 96 km but limited to 40 km/h under regulations.

Also read: POEM Eleksuria - The forgotten story of Tun M’s failed attempt at making a Malaysian Tesla

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A ranch in Montana even purchased 12 of them but few remain on the road

They weren’t as cool as modern EVs but the ZX40 was used by various government organisations and universities like NASA, the US Navy, Stanford University, and Yale University. Unfortunately, Miles Electric Vehicle wouldn’t last and in 2013, less than a decade after its incorporation, the company declared bankruptcy.

8. There was a Kenari Hybrid concept in 2003

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Source

Speaking of electrified Move iterations, Perodua had once shown the Kenari Hybrid concept at the 2003 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS). The concept car featured technology that was provided by Daihatsu and claimed to not be taken from the Toyota Hybrid System.

Also read: What’s an abandoned first-gen Toyota Prius doing at Pusat Sains Negara?

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Given Perodua's use of Daihatsu tech, it could be similar to this engine that was shown in the Move EV-H II concept at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show

The hybrid weighed 115 kg more than the standard petrol-powered Kenari thanks to the heavy battery packs and has a 10 km/h less top speed. The system combined a 660-cc petrol engine (41 PS/57 Nm) with an electric motor (25 PS/100 Nm) mated to an electronic CVT which sent power to the front wheels.

Also read: Driving the 2022 Perodua Myvi facelift with new D-CVT – We tell you how it feels

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Daihatsu also demonstrated fuel-cell technology on the Move in 2003 but it didn't pass the prototype stage

Juicing up the electric motors is a 288-volt Ni-Mh battery and while the prototype looked ready for production, Perodua never followed up. It would take nearly a decade for Perodua to relook into hybrid technology with rumours of the Perodua Ativa possibly getting a hybrid system similar to its Japanese twins, the Daihatsu Rocky/Toyota Raize e-Smart.

Also read: Did Perodua just tease the Ativa e-Smart Hybrid with this very lean and green video?

The Daihatsu Move might be more Japanese-oriented these days but way back when, it was a quirky boxy tall car that tried to make it overseas. After failures in Europe, it turns out that the one market which this boxy car found success outside of its home country is Malaysia.

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Sri Lankan-spec Kenari shown

Beyond that, the Perodua Kenari was also exported overseas too in markets where Daihatsu has limited or no presence. Both the Move and the Kenari would receive cult following for their quirky but also practical style but we won’t likely see the former make a comeback as a Perodua sadly.

Also read: National pride runs deep when we see Protons and Peroduas around the world

CY Foong

Writer

Traded advertising for a career that fits his passion for cars. Enjoys spotting cars during his free time and has a soft spot for Japanese Kei cars but drives a thirsty manual sedan.

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