TOKYO -- Daihatsu is replacing its slow-selling Sirion small-segment car with an all-new model jointly developed with Toyota.
The Japanese automaker will introduce the Boon, a five-door hatchback with 1.0- and 1.3-liter gasoline engines, in Europe by the end of the year.
The Boon was introduced on June 7 in Japan, where it has been a hit with Japanese consumers, who are shifting in growing numbers to small cars from minicars.
Daihatsu took orders for 4,000 Boons in its first month of sales.
The car will probably get a different name for Europe.
Last year, Daihatsu sold 3,690 Sirions in Europe, down 20 percent from 2002. The car was launched in 1998.
The Boon was jointly developed with Toyota, which owns 51 percent of Daihatsu, to save production costs.
It is the first car the two automakers have made together for the Japanese market.
Previously, the carmakers cooperated on developing a seven-seat vehicle, which Daihatsu builds and sells in Indonesia as the Xenia. Toyota exports its version of the car, the Avanza, from Indonesia to Thailand.
Of the eight Japanese brands that compete in western Europe, Daihatsu had the second-fewest sales last year behind another Toyota-owned brand, Lexus. Dai-hatsu sold 27,333 units in Europe, up 11.4 percent from 2002.
Toyota was No. 1 -- it sold 670,009 vehicles in western Europe while Lexus sold 18,841 units last year.
Toyota's sales star
Toyota sells the Boon in Japan as the Passo but has no plans to ship its version of the car to Europe.
Toyota received orders for 25,000 Passos during its first month on sale. Its monthly sales target for the car in Japan is 7,000 units.
Daihatsu aims to sell 1,500 Boons a month in Japan, but has not given sales targets for Europe.
To meet strong demand for the car in Japan, Daihatsu's plant in Ikeda, Japan, is raising monthly production to 14,000 units in this month from a planned 10,000 cars.