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Tokyo show setting the tone with EVs and self-driving cars

S Muralidhar | Updated on March 10, 2018

Mazda Vision Coupe concept

Lexus LS+ concept

Mercedes-AMG Project One concept

Nissan 1Mx concept

Autonomous driving vehicles, fuel-cell Concepts and plug-in hybrids dominate the floor at this year’s show

For enthusiast drivers, this may not be the most exciting news, but for the geeky futurist this year’s Tokyo Motor Show and its heavy focus on electric, fuel-cell vehicles and self-driving tech will make it seem like tomorrow has arrived today.

The Tokyo motor show has often been considered the harbinger of new technologies that become mainstream in the future. This year’s edition (the 45th biennial) of Japan’s biggest automotive show witnessed participation from 153 carmakers and components makers from 10 different countries.

Honda

The automaker, which has been working on electrics and fuel-cell vehicles for decades, showcased vehicles neatly segmented into different categories. The Honda Urban EV concept has been developed on a dedicated EV platform and provides the direction for future mass-market vehicles. The Sports EV concept saw its world premiere at the show and is said to be a next generation sports car combining EV performance and AI tech in a tight, compact sports car body. The Honda NeuV is the other commuter concept model equipped with AI and automated driving. The system even determines the driver’s stress level from facial expressions and voice tones to support with autonomous driving. Honda officials say that the company plans to electrify two-thirds of its car portfolio by 2030.

Lexus

Toyota was the other manufacturer, which went full tilt with its focus on fuel cells and electrics. The carmaker unveiled the prototype for its hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride, its latest FCV. It has a driving range of 1,000 km, a step up from the Mirai’s 650 km range (the company’s first mass-produced FCV). The EV and car market leader also showcased EV concepts such as the Concept-i Ride and the Concept-i Walk. Toyota’s luxury car brand – Lexus – also debuted a futuristic self-driving concept of its own in the LS+ a reinterpretation of its existing LS sedan Line. This concept almost looks production ready and features forward-looking features like Lasers for headlamps and tiny cameras instead of rearview mirrors. But its hybrid powertrain, like the car’s textile-spindle inspired grille, could actually find a fit in one of Lexus’s current day cars.

Nissan

Nissan’s Leaf is one of the largest selling EVs in the world. The current generation Leaf finally looks like a regular modern day car, in fact it is very attractive too. In addition to showcasing a Leaf NISMO concept designed by the company’s motorsports division, Nissan also unveiled the IMx, a high-end EV concept. Nissan says that the IMx represents the company’s vision of ‘Intelligent Mobility’, with the ‘x’ referring to the crossover body style. It can be driven by the driver, or he or she can simply sit back let the steering wheel retract and allow the autonomous driving assistance to take over.

Mercedes-Benz

The German automaker had launched its new brand EQ to specialise in the production of electric vehicles in 2016. The brand had three interesting variations on display at Tokyo within the theme of EVs and autonomous driving. The Mercedes-AMG Project One supercar was the first to be showcased in Frankfurt this year. It now features a 1.6-litre V6 turbo with a maximum output of 680PS and a system output of 1000PS assisted by a total of four motors; also has a zero emissions mode. The Concept EQ a three-door hatch and the smart vision EQ fortwo offering level 5 fully automated driving without a steering wheel were the other cars on display.

With all the futuristic tech on display, major new premieres of regular fuel-powered new cars were conspicuous by their absence. There has also been a steady decline in the number of participants at the Tokyo Motor Show, with the emergence of Chinese auto shows as major draws in the region. This year’s edition of the Tokyo show is said to have witnessed more than a 40 per cent decline in participation.

Published on October 26, 2017

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