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.