TOKYO MOTOR SHOW
Getting clever with crazy concept cars
The Tokyo Motor Show is under way and a number of domestic manufacturers are there in their numbers, writes Lerato Matebese
There are always a number of concept models displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show — which is now in its 45th year — and this year’s event is no different.
Honda is on a roll when it comes to funky, cool concepts, having launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show the EV Concept hatchback, which harked back to the first generation Civic of the 1970s. Its main purpose, however, was to showcase its new electric vehicle platform.
Now the company has added yet another concept in the form of the Sports EV Concept, which is essentially a sports coupe that will be built on the same, variable platform as the hatchback.
It looks fantastic. That front end is a nod to the American muscle car of the 1970s the Dodge Challenger.
Although the design is probably more closely related to Honda’s S600 from the 1960s with its simple design and fastback rear-end. The model is touted to go into production in 2019, but Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says the model is at this stage only destined for Japanese and European markets.
Then Mazda took the wraps off its Kai concept, which features sharp styling, as part of the Kodo Soul of Motion design philosophy, which is quite obvious in the recently updated CX-5 compact SUV. This design language will trickle into a number of the company’s future models, which includes the next Mazda 3, which could well be based on the Kai. Granted, a few items will be watered down slightly in the production car, but if the CX-5 is anything to go by, then the 3 will be nothing short of a stunner.
Nissan showed its IMX crossover concept, which is said to be a prime platform for the company’s future SUVs, including the Rogue in the US, known here as the X-Trail. The IMX has an electric motor on each axle, delivering 160kW each and a combined torque figure of 700Nm, outmuscling even the mighty GT-R when it comes to pulling power. It is said to have a range of 600km when fully charged, which is even more than the forthcoming new Leaf.
The model is said to have artificial intelligence technology, which means it will have some degree of autonomous driving.
According to Tomoko Kakinuma, manager of Nissan’s technology planning department, the IMX will be fitted with a 360° sensor field to enable it to achieve fully autonomous driving. The system is said to comprise 12 cameras, six laser scanners, nine radars and 16 sonar systems.
Toyota’s GR HV, which simply translates to Gazoo Racing Hybrid Vehicle, is essentially an open-top 86 sports car in the mould of the Mazda MX-5 RF, with a folding metal roof where the C-pillar and the rear window remain in place when the roof is opened. To me this model looks like a plain Jane 86 with a few cosmetic tweaks.
The company says that the model shares a similar hybrid system to that of its endurance racing TS050 LMP1 race car. Not quite sure how that is supposed to pan out in production, should it even get that far, but this sort of system will add more weight to the car due to the added batteries, which could mean that the vehicle might lose some of that dynamic sheen we so love.
In addition, this particular model is said to be an automatic, but the gear lever still has the H pattern that alludes to a manual transmission. So, which one is it, then, Toyota?
Something more exciting, visually speaking, is the Yamaha Motoroid sports bike concept, which its maker has given little detail about, other than that it will have artificial intelligence that will make it possible for the bike to recognise its owner.
But while bikes might be Yamaha’s forte, much of the attention was focused on the company’s Cross Hub concept. Yamaha has developed concept cars before, but the Cross Hub is a bakkie, a different looking bakkie. It is different inside too, with seating for four, but in a setup that is rather unusual. The driver sits alone up front, but behind are two seats and then a fourth seat is on its own at the back. Why you ask?
Well, Yamaha says the design allows more interior storage space but, more importantly, it allows space for two motorbikes to fit on the back. Clever, but clever is something that the concepts at Tokyo are known for and this year was no exception.