Three of the world’s most important auto shows began last week. Since my invitations to the various press events must have been lost in the mail I, like virtually everyone else in the world, followed them over the internet. I’m OK with that, really. I hate fighting the crowds and by the time a show closes high resolution photos of the most important cars are always all over the world-wide-web, anyhow. With the photos are the journalists’ impressions. Some are good and some are bad, but they all make me think. For example, there’s this article from the Top Gear website on the Tokyo motor show that asserts, on the strength of the cars at this year’s show, “Japan is back.” Hold on – Really? (Read More…)
The Tokyo Motor Show is always good for an unusual transportation device or two and this year’s show looks to be no exception. Toyota will be debuting the FV2, which appears to be a cross between a leaning trike, a jet ski and a horse. That’s right, a horse. The FV2 is supposed to connect the driver physically and emotionally to the driving experience and it is controlled by the rider’s body motions. Shifting the driver’s body will cause the vehicle to move forward, backward, left or right. Toyota sees the driver and FV2 developing a relationship similar that between a rider and a horse, with the FV2 learning the driver’s behavior. The vehicle even uses voice and image recognition to analyze the driver’s mood and suggest destinations.
Honda’s rear-driven products built for two tend to be motorcycles, scooters and ATVs for the most part, but every now and again the company will unveil a roadster whose name begins with an S, and ends with the number of cubic centimeters the engine provides.
Such a car is set to return soon to the showroom floor, and will make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November: The Honda S660.
Hyundai has a new and extremely successful spokesman. He is well-known, he can speak about cars with more authority than a football player. Best of all: He works pro bono. It is Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn. With a low-cost video, Winterkorn catapulted Hyundai’s image to formerly unknown heights.
“On Nov. 27, Toyota boss Akio Toyoda wowed a crowd of spectators in Japan by racing through a lineup of Lexus LFA supercars in the new Toyota 86 sporty coupe. One day later, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito hopped on a Honda MotoGP racing motorcycle and blasted around the company’s Twin Ring Motegi racetrack.” (Read More…)
Yesterday, you had your private tour of the Tokyo Motor Show, and you could not find a more competent and entertaining tour guide than Nissan’s head designer Francois Bancon. (Officially, „Deputy Divisional GM for Product Strategy.”) The former Renault man has seen the world. He was a Frenchman of the first hour at Nissan.
If you want to see the Japanese market through European eyes, then please tag along for part deux of the tour, where Bancon talks about Suzuki, Honda, and Daimler. Listen closely to what Bancon says about Daimler. Renault/Nissan and Daimler have an alliance, and Bancon knows where it is heading
Checking out the competition has a great tradition at auto shows. Executives usually try to avoid doing it in front of rolling cameras. They don’t want to end up like Volkswagen’s Winterkorn, who immortalized himself in his “Da scheppert nix” candid camera video, while admiring the non-rattling steering column of the latest Hyundai.
Before the Tokyo Motor Show, we were told that the Juke Nismo on display there is a prototype only, to gauge customer reception. If customers react positively enough, the car will be made. If not, forget about it.
Apparently, Nissan’s Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura heard nothing but positive remarks because … just watch the video until the end and hear what he says.
Toyota capitalized on the pre-Tokyo Motor Show buzz and presented its plug-in hybrid Prius PHV to the press. The car is not quite ready for launch, it will be launched in Japan on January 30, 2012. However, dealers accept orders as of today. The venue of the press conference was carefully chosen: The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
Toyota sees this car as the “mainstay next-generation eco-vehicle following the EV.” (Read More…)
More pre-Tokyo-motorshow nekkyou-teki (craze): Nissan is creating buzz for its Juke by floating two videos for the Juke Nismo. The car will be on hand when the show opens to the press tomorrow. The car is a prototype only, to gauge customer reception. If customers react positively enough, the car will be made. If customers react blasé, it will be forgotten .
“It depends on the reaction at the Tokyo Motor Show. If it’s quite positive, we’ll consider introducing it into the market,” says Nissan President Shoichi Miyatani. (Read More…)
According to my informants, the Tokyo Motor Show will degrade into a „regional show“ and will pale in comparison to the monster shows in Shanghai or Beijing. Toyota will ignore that, and its exhibit will be “likely one of the most closely watched ones of the show,” as Automotive News [sub] says.
The crowd magnet will be a car which Toyota steadfastly refers to as the “compact, rear-wheel-drive sports vehicle jointly developed by Fuji Heavy Industries and TMC.” Any guesses what it may be?
Autoguide already publishes under-hood pictures, but Toyota will release neither name of the FT-86 / Scion FR-S, nor will it hand out pictures, even under strict I-will-cut-your-fingers-off-if-you-break-it embargo. First in-the-flesh pictures should appear on Sunday, November 27. How do I know that? Trust me.
Did I say no pictures? You will drown in pictures after the jump … (Read More…)
With the Tokyo Motor Show only weeks away, Japanese manufacturers start dribbling out announcements of what they will show at the show.
Subaru for instance announced to the astonished world today “that it will roll out the Subaru BRZ compact sports car, jointly developed with Toyota Motor Corp. at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month,” says The Nikkei [sub]. No word from Toyota on its Subaru-sibling, any announcements from Aichi are under tight embargo. And when they say embargo in Japan, they mean it. Except when you are Nissan. (Read More…)