One thing I have to say about the people of Tokyo. They may not drive much (thanks to the largest urban railway system in the world), but they sure love their cars.
I spent one afternoon at the Tokyo Motor Show. It was a Monday so I figured the crowd would be light. Not a chance. Thousands of people who rarely get the chance to drive couldn’t wait to see the latest designs and concept cars.
So here is my top five.
Like everyone else, I was enthralled by Mazda’s RX Vision. The Zoom Zoom company took the original RX-7 design and morphed it into an incredibly sexy coupe. Like the RX-7, the new Vision also had a rotary engine. If the Vision ever survives to production, I can’t imagine the rotary will be a part of the final package. Heck, I don’t care what engine they put in the darn thing… just build it!
The Lexus LF FC is probably closer to reality than the Vision. Although, again, the engine might change although for different reasons. The FC stands for fuel cell. While the rotary would be taking things back to the future, the fuel cell is a concept that has yet to arrive. Yes, it can work, but that’s a long way from making it work in hundreds of thousands or even millions of production passenger cars. Once again, forget the engine. The LS FC’s swoopy lines show that sedans don’t have to be boring. We probably won’t see the entire thing, but much of the styling could be the future LS.
Japan likes its boxy cars and the Daihatsu Noriori maximizes that shape. The company calls it the multi-use commuter of the future and had a song and dance show on its stage showing how the Noriori’s low ramps can easily accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Of course, we’ll never see it here. Daihatsu may be Japan’s oldest carmaker, but it’s been shrinking over the last decade so coming to America isn’t likely.
There is nothing realistic about the Toyota FCV. It’s a pure concept car to showcase potential technology and design. In the FCV’s ideal world, its fuel cell engine will not only power you on the road, but feed power back into the electrical grid. The FCV is simply fun to see because it looks like it belongs in Blade Runner.
Finally, a tiny car called the Piana caught my eye. Built by a company called Style-D, it’s the modern version of the BMW Isetta complete with a door on the front (although this one swings up instead of out). The bigger change is that it has an electric motor with a battery pack that the company claims can recharge in just five minutes and deliver a 75 mile range. Not sure if they can deliver on that promise, but the Isetta-ish looks won me over!