The Tokyo show always includes adventuresome technology demonstrations.
The biennial Tokyo Motor Show is always a source of impressive technological experiments, both in terms of the advanced new production models and the adventuresome concepts the Japanese automakers love to exhibit at their home auto show.
There are always oddities; Honda’s robots, Toyota’s rolling phone booth-looking contraptions, or even motorcycle-maker Yamaha’s previous forays into carbuilding with exciting sports cars. This year’s edition of the show was unsurprisingly highlighted by a variety of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. These are our eight favorites.
Lexus LF-30 Electrified concept
The LF-30 Electrified concept’s enormous power-operated gullwing doors are not likely headed to production soon, but the car’s four in-wheel electric motors that combine for a total of 536 horsepower could be a preview of a future Lexus EV drivetrain, which boasts wireless charging, a 310-mile driving range and a 125 mph top speed. (Image source: Lexus)
Mazda’s first battery electric vehicle will be a sporty compact crossover. The MX-30 supports both the popular-in-Japan CHAdeMO and the COMBO direct current charging standards for quick charging. For conventional alternating current charging, the MX-30 has a 6.6 kW onboard charger for speedy 240-volt recharges. The rear-hinged rear doors, a staple of auto show concept cars, are apparently production intent. (Image source: Mazda)
Mitsubishi MI-TECH Concept
Mitsubishi’s sporty dune buggy concept features a gas hybrid-electric drive system powering electric drive to all four wheels for surefooted off-roading. A key advantage of gas turbines is the ability to burn a wide variety of fuels, including gas, diesel, kerosene and alcohol. The electric motors provide for the ability to spin left and right side wheels in opposite directions, allowing the MI-TECH to spin in place. (Image source: Mitsubishi Motors)
Mitsubishi Super Height K-Wagon Concept
Japan’s super-compact Kei car category specifies compact length and width, but just as Tokyo’s skyscrapers maximize precious land area, so does Mitsubishi’s Super Height K-Wagon Concept maximize available cabin space by expanding upward. Upright seating exploits the available interior height and sliding rear doors maximize access to the back seat, making the K-Wagon concept the limousine of kei cars. (Image source: Mitsubishi Motors)
Nissan Ariya Concept
Nissan concedes that while it has labeled the Ariya as a concept, the electric crossover vehicle is nearly production ready. Specifications for a future production version are sparse, but Nissan does say it includes the second generation of the company’s ProPilot driver assistance system. The Ariya can quick charge its underfloor battery pack using the CHAdeMO charging standard. (Image source: Nissan)
Suzuki Hanare concept
“Hanare” is the word for a detached cottage in Japanese, and that is the inspiration for Suzuki’s box-on-wheels concept car. Suzuki promises that Hanare’s use of artificial intelligence and robotics will prioritize personal connections, even though that seems contradictory. (Image source: Suzuki)
Suzuki Waku SPO concept
Suzuki’s response to Japan’s national fascination with transforming robots is the Waku SPO, a shape-shifting compact car that can change its body shape, front fascia design and instrument panel display appearance at the touch of a button. (Image source: Suzuki)
Toyota LQ Concept
Toyota promises that built-in artificial intelligence in the LQ concept will ensure safety and comfort, increase alertness and reduce stress by adjusting in-vehicle illumination, air conditioning, fragrances and human-machine interactions to best suit the driver.
The LQ features SAE Level 4 automated driving capability, an automated valet parking system and an augmented reality head-up display system to aid when a person is driving. The dashboard includes Toyota’s first use of an organic LED (OLED) display, and the cabin air is purified by a catalyst that converts harmful ground-level ozone to oxygen. (Image source: Toyota)
Toyota E-Racer concept
Toyota’s E-Racer concept looks fast just sitting there, and that’s a good thing because all it actually does is sit there. The E-Racer is a simulator built to look like an electric race car along the lines of a Formula E racer. Drivers slide into a customized seat and don virtual reality goggles to pilot the E-Racer on any of a variety of circuits while never leaving the confines of Tokyo’s Big Sight convention center.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda says that a mobile version of the E-Racer could be a closed-course sports car in a future when most cars have become autonomous, and human-piloted cars are strictly for recreation, much as horses are mostly recreational today. (Image source: Toyota)
Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.