TOKYO – The 44th edition of the Tokyo auto show wraps up after showcasing some of the most environmentally friendly vehicles the world has ever seen.
They include Honda’s new-generation fuel-cell car, Nissan’s all-electric Leaf and Toyota’s first Prius hybrid to be powered by a lithium-ion battery.
The new FCX Clarity arrives on the Japanese market in March. The U.S. launch follows later in the year. In fiscal 2016, Honda plans to lease 200 units, mostly in Japan. When the FCV eventually goes on sale it will list for ¥7.66 million ($62,200). Less ¥2 million ($16,200) in government subsidies, it will cost ¥5.66 million ($46,000).
The new Clarity has a range of 435 miles (700 km) and takes three minutes to refuel.
Fumihiro Yaguchi, an official with Honda’s R&D operations, says the car’s 3.1-kW stack is equivalent in size to a V-6 engine and thus can fit into the car’s engine compartment, freeing up space for five passengers.
The new Clarity joins the Toyota Mirai on the short list of FCVs on the market. The Mirai, star of the 2013 show, plays a support role this time around to Toyota’s new-gen Prius.
Launched last December, the Mirai is available in Japan, the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Denmark and Belgium. Toyota targeted sales of 700 units this year and sold 350 in Japan alone through September.
The automaker expects to triple Mirai sales to 2,000 in 2016 and hopes to boost annual sales to 30,000 by 2020.
The Prius, due in Japanese showrooms in December, followed by North America in early 2016, features all-new components including a lithium-ion battery and upgraded nickel-metal-hydride unit.
About half of sales, varying by market and grade, will employ li-ion batteries, until now used only in the Prius Plug-In Hybrid and one grade of the Prius v (sold in Japan as the Prius Alpha). Toyota otherwise has used NiMH batteries in the three previous generations of the car.
Toyota says the Prius’s re-engineered powertrain achieves 112 mpg (2.1 L/100 km), a 23% improvement over the outgoing model.
Leaf Range Achieves Triple Digits
Nissan displays a new longer-range Leaf which can run 175 miles (280 km) on a single charge, up from 142 miles (228 km) for the current model. Range in U.S. EPA mode is 107 miles (171 km), up from the current Leaf’s 84 miles (134 km).
A new battery holds 30 kWh of power, up from the current unit’s 24 kWh. A company official attributes the new battery’s higher capacity to a new, unspecified electrode.
Nissan neither announces the new model’s launch date nor says where the new battery will be produced – in Japan at Automotive Energy Supply, Nissan’s joint venture with NEC, or in the U.S. at Nissan Motor Mfg. USA in Smyrna, TN.
Suzuki, Japan’s leading small-car manufacturer, displays a Solio hybrid concept along with its new direct injected and turbocharged gasoline engines. No launch date is disclosed.
The automaker currently offers five mild hybrids: the Spacia, Hustler and Wagon R in the 0.66L segment and the Solio and new Ignis, both powered by 1.2L gasoline engines. Mitsubishi Electric supplies the cars’ integrated starter-generator; Toshiba, the Li-ion batteries.
Suzuki also displays its 1.0L and 1.2L Dualjet direct-injection gasoline engines and the 1.0L turbocharged Boosterjet engine to be installed in the Baleno in Europe next spring.
Mazda, with no new engines on display here, is expected to introduce a turbocharged version of its Skyactiv gasoline engine this month in the U.S. No specifications are disclosed.
A company executive says the automaker aims to improve the gasoline engine’s fuel economy to levels of its Skyactiv diesels.
In the truck sector, Toyota subsidiary Hino exhibits a fuel-cell bus concept along with a future heavy-duty hybrid truck.
The Profia truck, sold overseas as the Hino 700, is powered by Hino’s downsized A09C engine. The 8.9L diesel, which employs both common-rail injection and a variable-geometry turbocharger with an intercooler, produces 360 hp and 1,160 lb.-ft. (1,570 Nm) of torque.
Toyota will join the powerplant with a 90-kW motor.
A spokesman predicts hybrids will account for 30% to 40% of Hino light-truck sales within five years, up from 10% at present.