Blogging from Japan: we go inside the Tokyo Motor Show
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It isn’t a myth that Japan is a techie’s dream.
Arriving at Narita airport in Tokyo you walk past a heat sensor, checking a visitor isn’t running a temperature. At a train station near Yokohama bullet trains, capable of hitting speeds of 340km/h, spear past like a gift from the future, even though they’ve been around since the last century.
To enter a slightly rundown amusement park near Mt Fuji there’s a pause while a Customs-like camera clicks for “security facial recognition”. And, perhaps most startling of all, enter the toilet at a hotel near Shinagawa rail station and the seat is warmed, and the lid (I am not making this up) lifts in what feels like a greeting when you walk into the stall.
So no wonder the Tokyo motor show, while not as big, as an Aussie motoring journalist notes as, say, the Paris show, “where you could do with a bloody tram to get around it’s so big” motoring fans look to it eagerly as a source of dramatic new advances.
Honda just announced a big change to its Jazz. The CR-V Hybrid, the Jazz supermini, pairs two electric motors with a 2.0-litre petrol engine. Honda has yet to confirm any capacity, performance or economy figures for the new Jazz's hybrid drivetrain.
They did say the Jazz will be the first in the brand's line-up to only offer a hybrid powertrain, with other models soon to follow suit.
Suzuki unveiled an ultra-compact vehicle, the Waku SPO. Waku means excitement in Japanese, but the Waku doesn’t look anything like a race car, morel, as Suzuki themselves have phrased it, a mobile room on wheels, a concept called the Hanara in Japanese. A plug in hybrid, it’s described as being for a “family to share fun”.
Presentations at the show are received in a thoughtful, almost reverent silence by the media present. The rush for a seat at the MX-30 launch, on the other hand, was conducted with the silent, grim determination of an All Black in the gym.
There was applause though, for Tomiko Takeuchi, the programme manager for the MX-30, probably because she was so obviously smitten with the project she could even say, and mean it, about the unusual door configuration, that owners should park the car, open up the doors and enjoy the view for a while. The sound of the breeze and the birds singing will quiet your mind, and you will begin to feel like yourself again.
As someone who has previously only been to world events that involved sport, watching motoring journalists studying new models, swapping muttered comments about how long it been since a rotary engine had been in a big selling car, had a fascination of its own.
For some the temptation was too much, and although I didn’t see a journo actually kicking a tyre I did see some sneaking into cars, luxuriating in the spotless interiors, having opened doors that had been originally been closed by white gloved attendants.
In the luxury circle Lexus offered LF-30, an EV signalling the wave of the future as far as the company’s electric ambitions are concerned. The four-seater features huge gullwing doors and a giant glass roof extending from front to rear. When the doors opened it was hard not to picture it as the sort of car Batman might drive on his day off.