Tokyo Motor Show buzz is literally electric

Mistubishi's latest SUV concept includes a center console computer that extends into the back passenger seats.


By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 22, 2013

TOKYO — The 2013 Tokyo Motor Show is notable for what you’re less likely to find under several automakers’ brightest lights — a car running just on unleaded gasoline.

Hybrids, plug-in electrics and even a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle are conspicuous at the show, which opens at Tokyo Big Sight to the general public Nov. 23-Dec. 1.

Few of these energy-efficient vehicles resemble econoboxes. Nissan’s zero-emission Blade Glider concept car looks like something Batman might drive on his off-days. Unveiled at the motor show for the first time, the vehicle’s front end is only about three feet wide, but the back is a more standard width to minimize drag. The carbon-fiber body is still far from anything resembling a production model, but it’s a fun glimpse into future design.

On the slower end of the electric spectrum are a slew of “micro-mobility” one- and two-seater options featured by Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Zied also included a golf cart-style micro car driven while standing up, with room for one passenger up front.

I test drove the Toyota Coms at a press preview Thursday, and it felt a lot like tooling around in a quiet version of a go-kart, but with less power. It’s questionable whether such vehicles will ever see much success in the United States. But in countries like Japan, where space is at a premium, a plug-in car only slightly larger than a person might someday fill a niche.

Despite the concentration on electric, the cavemen among us who still enjoy the sound of a full-throttle engine won’t be disappointed by this year’s show. Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and other luxury marques bought some of their top-end production vehicles for visitors to hop inside for photos behind the wheel.

Others brought some of their vintage racers, scooters and memorabilia for car fans to ogle.

Visitors can also take the wheel in a Gran Turismo 6 simulator, test out Nissan’s Segway competitor and find other interactive displays.

Adult tickets to the show cost 1,500 yen. Discounts are also available for late entry and students. For information, see the show’s English website at www.tokyo-motorshow.com/en/.


Honda's classic 1959 RC-142 motorcycle is on display at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

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