Tokyo to Feature EVs, Hybrids and Fuel-Cell Vehicles

Tokyo to Feature EVs, Hybrids and Fuel-Cell Vehicles

The event will be smaller than in the past, in part because of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Nevertheless, it will showcase the latest in Japanese automotive technology.

TOKYO – This year’s Tokyo Motor Show, set to run Dec. 3-11, returns to its namesake city for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century.

Having spent the past 24 years at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, the 42nd show, dating back to 1954 when the Japanese auto industry was still in its infancy, will be held on the Tokyo waterfront at the Big Sight exhibition center.

All the major Japanese car and truck makers will be present, along with such European makes as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Peugeot and Volvo Truck. Scores of cars will be on display, ranging from luxury sedans and stylish coupes to all-electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.

Yet, the show will be smaller than in the past, in part because of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Nevertheless, it will showcase the latest in Japanese automotive technology.

For instance, the show’s organizers will hold a special event to illustrate future infrastructure systems designed specifically to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions – such as smart grids. The exhibit, named Smart Mobility City 2011, will bring together some 50 companies from the electronics, telecommunications and automotive industries.

Among the models to be displayed by seven of Japan’s eight auto makers (Toyota and Lexus are embargoing news) are three Nissan EV concepts, two of which have been shown at other auto shows.

The Pivo3, successor to the Pivo2 that was a big hit at the 2007 Tokyo show, will offer a new automatic-valet-parking feature in specially equipped lots that can be activated by smartphone.

Measuring slightly less than 10 ft. (3 m) long, the car can make a U-turn on roads only 13 ft. (4 m) wide. Like its predecessor, the tiny 3-seater has wheels that turn up to 90 degrees, thanks to in-wheel motors, helping make parking easier.

Side-view monitors replace mirrors and, utilizing Nissan’s Around View Monitor system, minimize blindspots. The center console features an ultra-wide display for navigation and other information.

Nissan’s Esflow, a futuristic Z-car that was a big hit at the Geneva auto show in March, employs two electric motors to drive its rear wheels. The EV can accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in just five seconds and travel 150 miles (240 km) on a single charge, the auto maker says.

The vehicle employs a laminated lithium-ion battery of unspecified density. Its wraparound windshield provides unobstructed visibility.

The Nissan Townpod, unveiled at the Paris auto show in September 2010, features rear-hinged and split-trunk doors, a futuristic steering wheel, joystick-style gear-shift lever and a touch-screen display linked to the driver’s smartphone.

Also on display will be Nissan’s NV350, a light-commercial van prototype, scheduled to replace the Caravan and Urvan models. Featuring 50/50 split, tumble-forward rear seats, the model is due in summer 2012.

Other Nissan models to be exhibited include the Micra DIG-S; GT-R supercar and a special version of the 370Z, the GT edition. Powered by a 1.2L gasoline direct-injection engine, the Micra DIG-S produces just 95 g/km CO2.

Honda will exhibit three special show cars and one new production model. The show cars include the AC-X, described as a next generation plug-in hybrid; Micro Commuter, a future EV; and a small EV sports car still to be named.

Honda planners confirm the AC-X is being readied for launch after 2015 and the Micro Commuter, featuring four in-wheel motors, will enter the market around 2020. Both models will use lithium-ion batteries.

The 3-seat Micro Commuter has a targeted range of 38 miles (60 km). Its battery, according to current plans, will generate 3.3 kWh with output power of 16.7 kW (22 hp).

The AC-X PHEV (standing for Advanced Cruiser-X) will have a range of 625 miles (1,000 km) including 31 miles (50 km) in EV mode. The model will be powered by a 1.5L gasoline engine and 120-kW (161-hp) motor.

No details are provided for the small EV sports car. The N Box, the first of a new 0.66L minicar series, is due out by the end of this year and will focus on optimizing interior space.

The Honda Fit EV, going on sale in 2012, also will be on display. The model, which debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, currently is being road-tested in the U.S. and Japan, along with plug-in hybrid versions of the Accord and Inspire.

All three cars incorporate Li-ion batteries. The plug-in Accord and Inspire will not be shown.

Mazda will show three concept cars: the Takeri, a next-generation sedan concept; Shinari sports coupe concept; and CX-5 cross/utility vehicle. The CX-5, which debuted in September at the Frankfurt motor show, goes on sale in early 2012.

As with its European counterpart, the Japanese CX-5 will be powered by the auto maker’s new 2.0L Skyactiv-G gasoline and 2.2L Skyactiv-D diesel engines. Both variants will be equipped with Mazda’s Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission and “i-stop” stop/start system.

The Takeri, a 4-door sports coupe envisioned for the next Mazda 6, is equipped with the Skyactiv-D diesel, i-stop and regenerative brakes. Mazda also will display its 4-seat Shinari concept for the first time in Japan. The sports car made its world premiere in Milan in the summer of 2010.

Mitsubishi, the first auto maker to mass-produce an electric car, the i-MiEV in June 2009, will show off a tiny electric van, the Minicab-MiEV. It also will display its first plug-in hybrid concept, the PX-MiEV-II, going on sale in early 2013 as the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid.

MiEV, which stands for “Mitsubishi In-wheel-motor Electric Vehicle,” is the auto maker’s electric drive system for all current and future EVs and PHEVs. Management plans to have eight such models road-ready by the middle of the decade.

The PX-MiEV II is powered by a 2.0L, 4-cyl. gasoline engine and a pair of 60-kW (80-hp) motors, one front/one rear. The target range is 500 miles (800 km), including 31 miles in electric mode.

Mitsubishi reveals only that the PX-MiEV’s battery will be Li-ion and close in capacity to the i-MiEV’s 16-kWh unit, with discrepancies in the electric-only range due mainly to a nearly 1,200- lb. (545-kg) weight differential between the two models. The base Outlander weighs 3,500 lbs. (1,590 kg) compared with the base i-MiEV’s 2,300 lbs. (1,045 kg).

Mitsubishi’s new Mirage sedan, which will make its world premiere at the Tokyo show, goes on sale next March. It will be powered by a 1.0L 3-cyl. gasoline engine with an automatic stop/start system mated to a continuously variable transmission. The auto maker claims the car will achieve 70 mpg (3.4 L/100 km).

Mitsubishi also will display the North American, European and Japanese versions of the i-MiEV at the show. The North American “i” is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. and Canada in December.

Fuji Heavy Industries, maker of Subaru cars, will display the Subaru Advanced Tourer Concept, Impreza Sport and G4 models at the show. It also will have on hand the BRZ, a rear-wheel-drive sports car jointly developed with Toyota.

The Advanced Tourer Concept hybrid will make its world premiere, as will the BRZ. The 5-door Impreza Sport and 4-door Impreza G4 debuted at the New York auto show in April. The BRZ is scheduled to launch next spring. Like its sister model, Toyota’s FR-S coupe, the RWD sports car will be powered by a 2.0L Subaru boxer engine.

Minicar maker Suzuki will display the Regina, a new global compact that gets 75 mpg (3 L/100 km) and cuts CO2 emissions to 70 g/km; the Q-concept; Swift EV Hybrid; and Swift Sport.

Rival Daihatsu will present the D-X, Pico and FC ShoCase, all world premieres, along with the Mira e:S hybrid.

The Daihatsu FC ShoCase is believed to be the first fuel-cell vehicle to employ the auto maker’s hydrazine-hydrate technology, which, according to researchers, has potential to substantially reduce fuel cell costs by virtually eliminating platinum and other precious metals in the electrode catalyst.

Suzuki characterizes the Swift EV Hybrid as a range-extender hybrid. The Swift Sport, already available in Europe, is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in late November.