The Truth About Cars » Tokyo Motor Show The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Tokyo Motor Show Tokyo Motor Show: Are The Japanese Really Back? Mon, 25 Nov 2013 15:30:01 +0000

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?

To be sure there were some important and exciting cars at this year’s Tokyo motor show. Honda showed us a new NSX and the S660 sport compact that compares favorably to the Beat kei class sports car that Honda produced back in the last century. Nissan showed us the amazing three-seat, electric “Bladeglider,” a hotted up Nismo GTR and the retro themed IDx. Toyota’s performance car offerings came in the form of the Lexus RC and a convertible FT86. While Toyota ripped the top off of their Toybaru twin, Subaru went the opposite route and gave baby some back with their Cross Sport. So far as I could glean, that was about it for cars intended to stir the hearts and minds of enthusiasts. That would have made for a pretty small show though, so augmenting the really interesting stuff were was a whole slew of hybrid/electric/gas, etc SUVs, sedans and city cars intended to appeal to the masses.

Click here to view the embedded video.

From my perspective what we got are some new toys of the uber rich, two small cars that my all-American ass won’t fit into, a couple of modifications on a car I probably won’t buy anyhow and one wanna-be-retro Nissan that might actually have some possibilities if they don’t screw it up with a powertrain that serious enthusiast wouldn’t want. The emphasis on products with hybrid or alternative energy powertrains and other technical innovations says some good things about state of Japanese industry and the many different body styles on display indicates that the Japanese have noted the success of Korean cars’ design language and are finally looking somewhere other than Mercedes for inspiration, too. Good news for sure, but does any of it mean Japan is back?

For me, the glory days of Japanese cars happened roughly between 1985 and 1995. The cars of that era had good, solid lines and, while the designs weren’t daring, they did have their own unique sense of style. There was technical innovation too and it came wrapped up in practical packages. Real performance was offered across all the price ranges and the variety of new cars was enormous. There was something there for everyone and if you could not afford a Twin Turbo Supra or a Turbo 300ZX, you could, at the very least, take home on of the good looking down-market alternatives: the AE86 Twin-Cam Corolla or the 200SX Turbo. Today, that wide aray of choices is no longer a part of Japan Inc.’s current line-up.

I’m not sure why that is, but in the process of writing this article it suddenly hit me that the cars on display at this year’s Tokyo motor show says something about how our society has become ever more divided over the past couple of decades. It doesn’t take an economist to point out that the rich have gotten richer and the rest of us poorer. The market reflects that reality. The rich get supercars, those of us in the middle get family trucksters and the odd toy while the unwashed masses receive battery powered practicality. The choices are gone and fun is being increasingly reserved for those who can afford it. It wasn’t that ay 20 years ago and the sad truth is that Japan isn’t anywhere close to being back. But then, none of us are, are we?

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Drive By The Seat of Your Pants, Literally, With the Toyota FV2 Concept Mon, 11 Nov 2013 10:00:07 +0000 toyota-fv2-to-be-unveiled-at-the-2013-tokyo-motor-show-photo-gallery-medium_9

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.

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Volkswagen up! With Hybrids in LA, Tokyo Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:00:54 +0000 VW Twin up

For anyone who admires the Volkswagen XL1 attributes but desires a less Teutonic, more cute vehicle, the fun will be doubled when the Twin up! debuts at both the LA and Tokyo auto shows later this month.

The near-production-ready hatchback — alongside the all-electric e-up! — will come down the ramps at both shows with help from the XL1′s diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain. Modified for the the Twin up!, the setup returns a claimed 256.8 mpg while putting just 27 g of carbon dioxide into the air per kilometer traveled; electric-only mode drops the range to a city-only 31 miles.

Unlike the XL1, the Twin up! is a heavyweight at 1205 kg. Thus, the XL1′s 800 cc two-pot turbodiesel is paired with a more powerfurl electric motor for double the horsepower; 47 from the engine, 47 from the motor, the latter receiving its go-go juice from the 8.6 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted in nearly the same manner as a Ferrari 458. The little ponies are then unleashed upon the city streets through the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

If you were hoping to do some time traveling, you’ll still need a DeLorean. The Twin up!’s top speed is limited to 87 mph, with a slow sprint to 60 mph of around 15 seconds, and only in hybrid mode.

As for when you might see the Twin up! parked next to a turbonium-powered New Beetle, Volkswagen remains mum on the subject for the time being.

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Subaru to Unveil Levorg Concept at Tokyo Motor Show Thu, 31 Oct 2013 14:14:06 +0000 Subaru-Levorg-Concept-Teaser-1

A new gold dawn for touring cars is upon us if Subaru is to be believed. Come November, the automaker will unveil the future of the Legacy and Outback at the Tokyo Motor Show: The Levorg.

The sport tourer concept — whose name is derived from legacy, revolution and touring — comes equipped with Subaru’s next-gen EyeSight pre-crash braking system, wraparound LED headlamps, a turbocharged 1.6-liter direct-injection boxer, and other wonderful, ephemeral goodies concept cars usually receive.

The tourer (don’t call it a wagon around the hipsters lest their stretched earlobes snap) has a bit of muscle in its appearance, as well, with sculpted fender flares, a slanted backside, and a round nose with an air scoop ready to direct cold air through the engine for more power.

Subaru will also unveil the Cross Sport Design Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, a concept with a small body for better seat access and maneuvering through the tight streets of Tokyo and, perhaps in the future, a street near you.

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The Beat Resurrected: Meet the Honda S660 Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:00:41 +0000 Honda S660 01

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.

The word on the street is the S660 will be powered by a 660 cc turbocharged engine placed just behind the driver and passenger, with all of its 67 ponies going to the rear wheels. Unlike some of Honda’s current and future offerings that are or will be powered by a combination of internal combustion and electric motivation, the new roadster is strictly gasoline-only.

The featherweight roadster, has its roots in the company’s EV-STER electric-only concept from the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show with regard to styling, penned by designer Ryo Sugiura. That said, don’t try to tell him his roadster is the second coming of the late Soichiro Honda’s last gift to the world, the Beat:

Some people might think this will be the remodeled version of the Beat. But it is not. This is totally brand new.

The S660 is one part of a potential three-pronged attack by Honda in the sports car segment. With it and the NSX forming the outer forks, the automaker plans to forge the center fork through the introduction a mid-engined Toyabaru hunter with a price point to match the GT86/BRZ/FRS when it makes its debut. In the meantime, the U.S. domestic market may not need to wait 25 years for the S660 to come over; Honda plans to sell the roadster in export markets with a 1000cc engine and minor changes with regards to safety regulations. S1000, anyone?

The S660 will make its production debut in Japan for the 2015 model year, in time for the automaker’s return to Formula One.


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Hyundai’s New Spokesperson: Martin Winterkorn Sat, 10 Dec 2011 18:01:33 +0000

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.

The German magazine Wirtschaftswoche reports that the image of Hyundai took a leap a few days after Martin Winterkorn walked over to the Hyundai stand at the Frankfurt motor show and praised the non-rattling steering column.The candid camera video went viral on Youtube. Says Wirtschaftswoche:

“In the days after the show, the image of Hyundai improved considerably. In the beginning of September, its brandindex score was at -25. A few days later, it climbed to -14, at least for a while. The brand still remains a bit weakly positioned, however, it is interesting that the brand score improved especially in the eyes of internet-savvy social media users.”

The measurements are by and refer to the German market only. We have not seen the study.  Still, Winterkorn’s handlers haven’t learned. You’d think they are watching his back for people with cameras. No, they don’t. At the Tokyo Motor Show, I (video wall, blue shirt next to potted plant, face covered by camera) sat right behind Winterkorn, with recording devices at the ready. I overheard nothing of interest .

There were no cars of the competition to talk about – it was at Volkswagen’s own show.

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New Trends In Far Eastern Management: Evil Knievel CEOs Thu, 08 Dec 2011 13:46:23 +0000

Automotive News Europe [sub] spotted a new trend in Tokyo: Daredevil CEOs:

“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.”

Actually, the industry rag should know that Akio Toyoda is an active racer, under the nome de plume “Morizou,” he races for Team Gazoo. He is also a feared testdriver.

Automotive News’ Tokyo correspondent Hans Greimel even scored a ride-along with Toyoda.

But what about Carlos Ghosn? We know that he privately drives a GT-R to go fast, and a Leaf to go shopping. So will there be any stunts from him? Automotive News Europe doesn’t know either:

 “No word yet on whether Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn plans to jump 10 buses in a Leaf, but don’t rule it out before the show wraps up Dec. 11.”

Fat chance. Ghosn left Tokyo and Yokohama right after the press days. Jump officially ruled out. When Ghosn wants to fly, he simply flaps his wings.

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Walking The Tokyo Motor Show With Nissan’s Enfant Terrible, Part Deux Thu, 08 Dec 2011 09:45:18 +0000

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

Executive summary for the video-impaired:

Bancon on Suzuki’s Swift EV Hybrid

“The Swift is not a hybrid, but a range-extender, a series hybrid. Swift is a very successful, a good car that is successful in India, somehow in Europe and a little bit less in Japan.  You have an internal combustion engine powertrain exclusively used to recharge a battery. The car is a normal, rear-wheel powertrain. It’s a smart technology – it’s also an expensive technology. So, I’m not sure how much they’re going to price for this. But the idea is interesting in a compact package.”

Bancon on Honda’s N-Concept:

“This is a kei car category. The most important segment is what we call the high-wagon kei car. Honda was not there. So, now they decide to enter because the kei car is about 40% of the passenger vehicles in Japan, and they were not in the most promising category, so they went now back on track with the N-series and they’re going to compete with our Roox. It’s a box with wheels and you’re done.”

Bancon on the Mercedes and Ducati motorbike partnership:

This is interesting because Mercedes is not a bike maker, as opposed to their main competitor in Germany. And they did this collaboration with Ducati and this is just a monster. And this is not by chance that Mercedes is also promoting the AMG series. I think they are pushing this direction to communicate the kind of high level of performance for the Mercedes brand. AMG was in Frankfurt, in Paris, now in Tokyo. It’s a kind of emblem, a kind of direction in which Mercedes wants to position themselves.”

Bancon on the Mercedes B-Class:

“This is interesting because this is a new-generation platform for Mercedes. This is also the platform for which we have some discussion with them about using some common components. Nothing really new—they just make the B-class better in terms of utility, roominess. The performance remains the same.”

Bancon on the Mercedes Concept-A:

Close to the B-class, you have the other one, which shares the same hardware components. And this is giving you some direction about where Mercedes is going in terms of design expression. This is going to be the No. 3 or 4 car they will build on the new architecture, called MFA, which is something we’re sharing with Mercedes, possibly in the future.”

There were no American makers at the Tokyo Motor Show, which prevented Bancon from saying good things about Americans.

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Walking The Tokyo Motor Show With Nissan’s Enfant Terrible Wed, 07 Dec 2011 17:46:52 +0000

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.

Now imagine the dropped jaws at Nissan when the crew at Nissan’ Global Media Center floated the crazy idea to have their own walk around of the Tokyo Motor Show, and to – gasp – say good things about the competition?

They found one executive who is always good for crazy ideas: Francois Bancon. Bancon is officially „Deputy Divisional GM for Product Strategy” at Nissan. In truth, the consummate Frenchman and enfant terrible of Yokohama is chief designer chez Nissan. Being around him is always good for a laugh, a tidbit of previously unpublished news, or, all of the above and a great dinner.

Who would be better suited as a tour guide than debonair Bancon? Using competitors’ cars as examples, he shows where the industry is going. Or could be going.

Bancon on Toyota’s Aqua (Prius C):

“This is interesting. You know that Honda launched the Insight some years ago with a very attractive price with the hybrid system. And, of course, Toyota will never accept that anyone is better than them in the hybrid category and this is the answer. It’s a compact car, about 4.1 meters [in length] targeting a price tag of about 1.5 or 1.6 million yen, which is really impressive. And I’m not sure they’re going to make any money out of this, but, anyway, this is Toyota.”

Bancon on Toyota’s FT-EV III:

If you remember, well, some years ago, Toyota was explaining that EV would never work because the only solution is a hybrid. So, they now have EV all over the place, starting with iQ, which is an existing model – 3 meters long, which is sold in Europe, Japan, and I think that’s it for now. And they have now an EV version. Nothing special. We were also playing in this category with some product to come. The idea is to make EV affordable for everyone, for the urban environment. “

Bancon on Toyota’s 86 Hachiroku:

“The 86 was 30 years ago a kind of emblem of the sports car by Toyota – an affordable sports car. So they made a deal with Subaru to supply the four-cylinder flat architecture, and they came up with this car – which is, I have to say, well done – for the four-cylinder rear-wheel drive about 200 horsepower. It’s a good initiative… in terms of communicating the brand of Toyota back to some sports car heritage.”

Bancon on Volkswagen’s Cross Coupé:

“This is a concept car made by Volkswagen, the so-called Cross Coupé. This is interesting – a kind of crossover between Juke and Qashqai. And with a kind of new design execution, which somehow has some inspiration from what Land Rover did recently on a compact crossover story. I think that should work. Obviously, this is for Europe and a little bit for Japan. Now, will Volkswagen be able to deliver on cost and price? That may be the next challenge for them. But the idea is interesting.”

Tomorrow: Bancon talks nicely about Honda, Suzuki and Mercedes-Benz.


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Nissan’s Chief Designer: The Juke Is A Concept Today, But You Will See …. Tue, 06 Dec 2011 12:28:20 +0000

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.

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Toyota Launches The Volt Worrier: A Prius Plug-In Hybrid That Won’t Break The Bank Tue, 29 Nov 2011 17:33:17 +0000

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.”

In carefully chosen words, Toyota managers pooh-poohed the pure plug-in. They pushed the usual buttons, namely range anxiety or time to charge. They subtly dissed the pure plug-in by saying that green vehicles are only good for the environment if they are widely used.

The EV cruising range is not far: 26.4 km, or 16.4 miles. After that, the Prius PHV will switch seamlessly into hybrid mode, using the familiar 1.8 liter series hybrid technology. Why such a short EV range? It is a careful balancing act of weight, space, and price.  A big battery adds heft and hefty cost. The Prius PHV is only 50 kg (110 lbs) heavier than the regular Prius. Its lithium-ion battery is small enough to not take away trunk space.  Trunk is the same size as that of the Prius. 16 miles is enough to get to the store and back or to roll out of town without polluting the air.

A lot more has been said today. A lot of it is already known to TTAC readers via our interviews with Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso.  Because there was so much, we make the whole press conference available to you via video as if you’ve been there yourself.

Toyota plans to sell 60,000 Prius PHV a year around the world. 35,000 to 40,000 are scheduled for Japan, the rest for the rest of the world. The car should arrive in the U.S. in Spring at a starting price of $32,000. People in Europe will have to shell out €37,000.

Leave it to Reuters to say why GM should be worried:

“General Motors Co is also looking to win over environmentally conscious consumers with its Volt plug-in hybrid, although its price tag of $41,000 is considered prohibitive.

The Volt also hit a snag recently, with U.S. regulators deciding last week to investigate the safety of the car after its battery pack caught fire in crash tests.

The Volt uses “range extender” technology to generate electricity on-board with the gasoline engine and carries 180 kg (400 lbs) of batteries.”

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Do You Want A Yuke Nismo? Raise Your Voice Tue, 29 Nov 2011 13:10:18 +0000

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.

So if you are at the Tokyo show, and you want that car, go to the Nissan stand and shout “watashi wa korega hoshii!” (I want it!) Don’t worry, you won’t be signing a contract.

Nismo is Nissan’s performance division, Japan’s answer to “M”, “R” and “AMG”. Starting with the Juke, Nismo aims to make  performance versions of Nissan’s mainstream lineup, Miyatani says.

Specs of the Juke Nismo are not known, but better be revealed at the TMS in order to make those hearts pound with anticipation.

One thing the Juke Nismo is not: The Juke R, that had created buzz on the webs for a while. My contacts at Nissan assured me that the Juke Nismo is no GT-R in Juke’s clothing. From what I am hearing, the Juke R will be limited to a few very much hand built versions, enough to create excitement by setting a seven minute plus time on the Nordschleife. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Street legal? Maybe. Production model? It probably will be as mass-produced as the top ranking Radical. I.e. not.

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Hachiroku Madness: Only 1000 (FT)86, All Hand Made? Tue, 29 Nov 2011 11:10:05 +0000

Tomorrow, the Tokyo Motor Show will open its doors at the Big Sight to the press. Pre-show madness is running in high gear. Every Japanese carmaker tries to outdo the other with pre-releases and hints. Sometimes, they go wrong. Especially, when there are gullible counterparts. On Sunday, the (FT)86 fans at the enthusiast site received shocking news from their special correspondent Leeky who was dispatched to the unveiling at the Fuji Speedway.

“The car will be limited to 1000 units per year only.
Each car I  can confirm will be hand made.”

This tidbit created outrage amongst the Hachiroku (86) fans. Many doubted the number and the production methods, but Leeky stuck to his guns:

“As I said, I am here as a guest of Toyota Japan with the head of advertising. These are the details that they have given me through all the questions I have been throwing at them. Hand made did indeed throw me for a second, so I asked again “Hand made!?”….”Yes, each one””

If Toyota Advertising really is so badly informed as Mr. Leeky alleges, no wonder that Tetsuya Tada, Chief Engineer of the (FT)86 a.k.a. Hachiroku had issues with his advertising department. In our sitdown interview on Sunday, Tada had remarked:

“When we first presented this idea to our advertising people, they were drastically opposed to this idea. They complained that the car doesn’t have a particularly fast time on the circuit, it does not use any new technology. They also could not think of a catchy headline for the catalogue.”

Also during the  Sunday sitdown, Tada steadfastly refused to set any production or sales targets. When asked, he admitted that he has no idea of how many will sell:

“We usually do thorough market research and produce them accordingly. This is not the approach we are taking here. But I do believe that this car will be doing well.”

Not a word about 1,000 units / year limit. Not a word about handmade. Production is outsourced to Subaru which in turn outsourced its complete kei-car production to Toyota’s Daihatsu. It would have been a raw deal for Subaru if only 1,000 Hachiroku are made by hand, while some 80,000 Subaru minivehicles are made by Daihatsu.

By now, there are 19 pages of comments at, all focused on the shocking 1,000 handmade Hachiroku per year “FACT.”

To put the fans at ease, I called Keisuke Kirimoto, official spokesman of Toyota Motor Corporation.  I asked him whether I had nodded off during the interview when those 1,000 handmade Hachiroku were announced. Kirimoto answered:


I told him that there are people who are under the impression that only 1,000 will be made per year. Kirimoto’s answer:

“Gee, I hope we will be selling more than that.”

Handmade? Please. The car will be made on a fully automated line at Subaru. Sure, that line is more suited for a “niche car” than the high volume lines at Toyota, Tada said, but nothing about handmade. This is an “affordably priced” car, and for that, you need more than artisians at a coachbuilder.

Shifting into official spokesperson mode, Keisuke Kirimoto officially confirmed that there are no production limits, and that they will sell as many as possible. In any case:

“Production plans and pricing will be released at a later date.”

Kirimoto asked me and the Hachiroku fanbase to keep in mind that what we saw on Sunday and what will be on display at the Tokyo Motor Show is a “pre-production prototype”, and that the final car will be  shown at its official market launch some time next year, along with pricing and possibly production targets.

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More Peeks Into Toyota’s Future: Tokyo Motor Show Preview Tue, 15 Nov 2011 15:11:38 +0000  

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 …

There will be the Aqua / Prius C.

Also in the nearly good to go dept. is the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which will go on sale in Japan “in early 2012.” Its fuel economy is advertised as “exceeding 57 km/L”, which would convert to a mind-blowing 134 mpg, if the darned EPA would accept the Japanese JC08 numbers. The EV cruising range is said to be  23.4 km (14,5 miles) enough to get to the store and back.

Further in the nearly ready dept., Toyota says that it is “developing EVs with the aim of launching a vehicle suitable for short-distance travel in 2012.”

Instead of the real thing, Toyota will show the FT-EV III “electric concept vehicle” with an “estimated cruising range of 105 km on a fully charged battery.”  That would be 65 miles, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Nissan Leaf, unless those pesky EPA numbers play tricks on us. We’ll see what the production model will bring.

Moving on out to 2015, we shall see “a practical sedan-type next-generation fuel-cell concept vehicle fueled by hydrogen.” That (and Toyota seems to be making a point by repeating it) “highly practical fuel-cell vehicle is planned for launch in about 2015.” As Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso told us, they aren’t fooling around.

People who are still fascinated by the LHD/RHD phenomenon may notice that in the hydrogen-powered concept the steering wheel is on the left hand side. Read into it whatever you desire, but don’t dwell on it.

Finally, there will be the Toyota Fun-Vii, “a concept vehicle that heralds a future where people, cars and society are linked.” I don’t have the vaguest idea what that may be. According to the picture, it could be a vehicle propelled by flower-power.

The Toyota Aqua. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Fuel Cell Concept. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Fuel Cell Concept. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Fuel Cell Concept. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Fuel Cell Concept. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Fun Vii. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota pure plug-in EV. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Plug-in Hybrid. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Plug-in Hybrid. Picture courtesy Toyota Toyota Plug-in Hybrid. Picture courtesy Toyota ]]> 5
Nissan Breaks Own Embargo With PIVO 3 Tue, 08 Nov 2011 02:42:58 +0000

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.

Nissan will lift its veil later on Tuesday, but it already broke its own embargo by releasing a sneak preview video of the third iteration of its PIVO EV Concept car. Let’s just say it’s a dream come true for each man who has fantasies of being in the middle.

The realization of these fantasies will have to wait a few years. According to the video, a commercialization of the car is a car generation or two away:

“So let’s say, we talk about something in 2016 or 2017 or about then.”

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