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2017 October Trends Special: The Tokyo Motor Show

The biennial Tokyo Motor Show is currently on at the Tokyo Big Sight International Exhibition Centre in Japan and is once again giving us a peek at what automakers have planned for the future of transportation.

This year the theme of the show is "Beyond the Motor", as the show seeks to address the significant changes that are taking place in the automobile industry. With technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous driving (AD) steadily improving and governments and major automakers making an increasing push towards electric vehicles (EV), the show is exploring how vehicles are continuing to evolve.

 In this Trends special, we will look at some of the major announcements from the show.


The theme for Daihatsu this year is its new slogan "Light you up," which was created in March to mark the company's 110th anniversary. At the show, Daihatsu showed off the new hybrid engine DN Compagno, a retro style car modelled on the original Compagno from the 1960s. The new DN compagno also features a high-tech dash and 360 cameras instead of wing mirrors. Another new offering from Daihatsu is the DN Pro Cargo, a commercial EV aimed at seniors.


In June, Honda announced its 2030 Vision strategy which will entail having two thirds of all its cars fitted with some form of electrification by 2030. In the September 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, Honda turned some heads with its Urban EV concept and in Tokyo, it followed up with the Honda Sports EV. In addition to featuring electric propulsion of some kind, Honda says this car will feature AI that reads the driver's emotions and then adjusts its display accordingly. Fans have been quick to note the Sports EV's lines bear resemblance to the classic Honda 1965 S600.





Lexus surprised a few people with its new AD enhanced LS sedan. The LS+ Concept uses the company's "Highway Teammate" technology to allow for self-driving on highways. Lexus says the LS+ Concept can manage all highway driving operations including merging, lane keeping, lane changing, overtaking and maintaining safe distances from other vehicles. Although it is still a concept, Lexus is planning to rollout AI and AD in 2020.




Mazda pulled the covers off two concept models, the Kai and the Vision Coupe. The Kai is a hatchback that looks like the future of the Mazda 3. The Vision is an evolution of Mazda's design language Kodo or "Soul of Motion", which often features long curvy, sculpted lines. Neither the Kai nor Vision are EVs, but they do feature Mazda's "Skyactiv-X" engine which promises the fuel-efficient of gas with the torque of diesel. Mazda also claims that rotary engine development is still ongoing and may be included in an EV in 2019.


In September, the new Chairman of Mitsubishi Carlos Ghosn announced a six-year plan which includes 12 EV models and 40 vehicles with AD technology. At the Tokyo Show Mitsubishi unveiled the e-Evolution, an EV Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) offering equipped with a smart torque-vectoring four-wheel drive system, AI and sensors around the body to read the road and assist drivers.


Nissan has Tesla in its sights with the new IMx EV, an SUV version of the new Leaf 2018 and is scheduled to go on sale in 2019. The IMx is an all-wheel drive thanks to high-output electric motors on the front and rear and has a maximum range of 600km. For contrast, the Tesla model 3 has a range of 350km for standard and 500km for its long-range model. Both the Leaf and IMx feature AD technology called ProPILOT which is able to take control of vehicle, stow the steering wheel inside the dashboard and recline all the seats.




Subaru WRX fans got what they were waiting for in the form of the Viziv Performance Concept. The Viziv represents the next generation of WRX due in 2019. It is slightly longer, wider and shorter than the current-gen WRX and features the same boxer engine and all-wheel drive combination. Regarding AD, The Viziv features Subaru's "Eyesight" driver assist which expected to launch in 2020.




Toyota's Concept-i which was first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, made an appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show. The Concept-i can detect emotional or stressful situations and then take control of the vehicle to improve safety. It features a cabin with four swivelling seats, AI you can converse with and an EV drivetrain with a 300km range. Toyota also showed the new hydrogen fuel cell-powered Fine-Ride Comfort concept and the hybrid engine TJ Cruiser SUV.






Toyoda Gosei showed off the Flesby, an intriguing single-seater concept car which features rubber on its exterior to protect the driver from accidents.



Mercedes came up with the Smart Vision EQ concept, an AD EV designed for ride-sharing.





Toyota also revealed the Sora, a fuel cell bus that may be used during the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Italian design firm Zagato gave a glimpse of the Iso Rivolta, which will be available to drive in the upcoming PS4 game Gran Turismo Sport and hit the road with five production models sometime in the near future.





To recap, the Tokyo Motor Show had three major trends, namely AD, AI and EV technology. With major automakers all exploring and investing in these areas, we can expect to see more autonomous, smart and electric vehicles in the years to come.

The Tokyo Motor Show began on Friday October 27 and will run until Sunday November 5.

Topics: Automotive Research