Unusual models and eco-friendly fuel alternatives were the highlight of the Tokyo Motor Show.
The theme of this year’s show was ‘fun driving for us, eco-driving for the earth’, and we saw some quirky models as well as the latest alternatively-fuelled vehicles.
Mitsubishi’s hybrid concept car unveiled at the Tokyo show will form the basis of a model scheduled for production in 2013. Called PX-MiEV, it is an SUV with a conscience. Its all-wheel-drive system and even its paintwork and seats are said to help save fuel. The PX-MiEV combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor in an all-new hybrid powertrain. At low-to-medium speeds, the electric motor alone drives the car. As the batteries start to run out of charge the petrol engine cuts in to serve as a generator. Front-or four-wheel drive is selected electronically through Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (SAWC) system, while an electronic differential decides how much drive effort should go to each rear wheel.
Air suspension can be set at three different ride heights to suit the terrain, while the glass blocks out ultra-violet light. The paint reflects the sun’s heat, and individually air-conditioned seats allow the main climate system to be turned down to save energy and reduce CO2.
Honda Skydeck Concept
MPVs don’t have to be big boring boxes on four wheels. Honda’s Skydeck concept car shows they can be sleek and stylish, too. The Skydeck has a flat, low floor to lower the centre of gravity, but a high central tunnel that could easily house the fuel stack and batteries. The first and second rows of seats sprout from the central tunnel like leaves off a branch. At the rear there is a two-seater bench. At just over 4.6 metres long, Skydeck is slightly shorter than the Accord saloon, but it is taller and has a longer wheelbase. It is not based on any existing Honda platform.
Suzuki Swift and SX4 Eco Concepts
Suzuki has unveiled a plug-in hybrid version of the Suzuki Swift and a hydrogen-powered SX4. The hybrid Swift is the closest to making it into production. It has a 660cc petrol engine and an electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. On electric power alone, the car has a range of 20km. The batteries are recharged by plugging into the domestic mains, but the petrol engine also has a generator to charge the batteries, while on the move. The car could make it to production within a couple of years, initially for the Japanese domestic market, but Suzuki may consider selling it further afield if it proves to be successful.
Lotus Exige Stealth/Scura
The Exige Stealth instantly caught our eye. The car will be called the Exige Scura in the U.K. and the most striking element is its matt black paint job. Differences from the standard Exige include new wheels and there’s a carbonfibre rear spoiler, air intakes and front splitter. The car also has specially formulated tyres made from a unique compound that’s just for Lotus.
There’s more carbon in the cabin — on the seats and centre console — and a mesh floor made of oxide coated aluminium. The Scura is powered by a 260bhp engine that’s from the Exige Cup 260. You can further fettle the car, too, as the suspension is adjustable — there are 60 settings on the damper unit, and you can also drop the ride height by 10mm.
Nissan Land Glider Concept
The Land Glider electric vehicle has rounded tyres like a motorbike, it leans through the corners like a motorbike and, at just over a metre wide, it’s not much wider than a motorbike. It can seat two people, has four wheels, a steering wheel and a hard cocoon that covers the driver and passenger. To us, that makes it a car.
The initial concept was to build an electric vehicle that is easily manoeuvrable in the city. With two electric motors that power the rear wheels, the Land Glider has a range of 120km (75 miles) and a top speed of 100kph (62mph).
The car also has a non-contact charging system -- it charges when the car is parked over a special charging pad.
This system enables vehicles to be charged wirelessly at locations where the infrastructure exists.