Electric, Eclectic Cars of the Tokyo Motor Show

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWild and Crazy
The Tokyo Motor Show has always been known for showcasing unusual and sometimes amusing new concept vehicles, and the 2019 edition was no exception. Although more than a dozen of what might be called “fanciful” new vehicles debuted at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, only a few production vehicles had world premieres, and those aren’t even confirmed to be coming to America. Even so, amid the outlandish concepts were many hints at what the future holds from companies such as Nissan, Honda, Subaru and more. Take a look at highlights from the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDaihatsu Tsumu Tsumu
Daihatsu sold vehicles in America for a few years in the early 1990s, and now it is wholly-owned by Toyota. America won’t be getting any new models built by Daihatsu; that said, the unusual vehicles that the company debuted in Tokyo would have never made it onto U.S roads anyway. The Tsumu Tsumu is the company’s vision of the next-generation Kei truck, which is a vehicle category of the smallest passenger cars, trucks and vans that are highway legal in Japan . Diminutive, nimble workhorses, Kei trucks are quite popular in Japan as utility vehicles, and there is growing interest in America (among the tragically hip) about these fun, quirky rides.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDaihatsu Tsumu Tsumu
The Tsumu Tsumu concept incorporates multiple bodystyles in one vehicle, featuring a reconfigurable cargo platform that allows for a variety of capabilities. With the option of a pickup truck bed, cargo box or other specialized unit, this Kei truck is indeed a victor of versatility. Our favorite is the example on display at the show in Tokyo. This Tsumu Tsumu features a drone unit on the back, complete with large launch platform. Jeff Bezos take note: Perhaps a fleet of Tsumu Tsumus could be a future solution for Amazon Delivery Services?

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDaihatsu Wai Wai
Daihatsu refers to the Wai Wai — another concept on display in Tokyo — as the “loveable minivan that gets lots of likes.” Definitely more mini than any minivan in America, the Wai Wai is certainly a cute take on the classic people mover. Although small on the outside, the Wai Wai has an enigmatically large interior with seating for four — plus considerable cargo space. Access to the interior is easy via the wide-opening front door, sliding rear door and no pillar in between.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDaihatsu Wai Wai
Inside, the Wai Wai exudes simplicity with equal doses of comfort and versatility. The multi-configurable fold-flat seats are covered in a durable fabric and they actually look more like modern chairs than seats in a vehicle. A wide display screen stretches across the dashboard, with another display next to the driver. And in an attempt to project a feeling of a bit more space and connection to the surroundings, dual fabric sunroofs let Wai Wai passengers enjoy a skyward view from any seat.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDaihatsu Waku Waku
Designed as an entry-level crossover built for adventure, the Waku Waku’s square styling makes for a roomy interior. The overall look is a bit of a cross between a Toyota FJ and a Honda Element. The raised ground clearance and all-wheel drive make the Waku Waku a great option for treks off the beaten path. The company refers to this unique little concept as “the close friend that makes fun in the mountains and sea so easy and carefree.” Well said my friends.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDaihatsu Waku Waku
The Waku Waku features rear seats that fold into a hard, flat cargo floor. The rear door opens wide, with an additional section below that folds down to create a wider opening as well as an additional surface for sitting or staging gear. It also works as a step to access the additional closed cargo space in the roof — the perfect place to store wet gear, since that way it stays separate from the rest of the interior.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda Fit
Last redesigned for the 2015 model year, the Honda Fit remains one of the most versatile subcompact cars on the market. At the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda introduced the fourth generation of this small car with updated styling and new powertrains, including a 2-motor hybrid system. While the new version continues with the basic shape as the previous Fit, there are still observable design changes — most notably the additional glass between the A pillar and front doors for considerable improvement in crash safety as well as visibility.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHonda Fit
The current Honda Fit’s standout feature is the flexibility of the rear seating configuration, and this rings true for the new model. However, the new Fit has improved seat comfort with thicker seat pads and better support. In Tokyo Honda displayed the new Fit in a variety of trims including the Ness, which features water-repellant materials and soft padding on the instrument panel, or the Luxe with leather trim and 16-inch aluminum wheels. The new Fit goes on sale in Japan early next year; at this time Honda has not confirmed if this new Fit will be coming to America.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceIsuzu FL IR Truck
Isuzu cars aren’t sold in America anymore, but the company builds some big trucks for the Japanese market. At the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show the maker debuted a futuristic ride for the long-haul trucking market. Called the FLIR — which stands for Future Logistics Intelligent Relay — this concept vehicle features a shark-inspired design to illustrate an image of a mighty robot — or so say the press materials. The truck certainly has a futuristic look about it — and is quite honestly a bit scary-looking.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceIsuzu FL IR Truck
While we weren’t able to climb inside, we’re told that the cabin is designed to adjust the dashboard when switching between manual driving and autonomous operation. The seats are also able to come together for a more comfortable place to lounge, ideally while the truck is driving itself. The big thing technically about this truck is that it has advanced autonomous features that enable “platooning,” which means multiple trucks are able to travel in an autonomous line with a point vehicle leading the others down the road.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLexus LF-30 Concept
Following a theme of electrification that seems to be prevalent at every auto show, Lexus introduced its vision for the future — 2030 to be more precise — in the shape of this bold concept vehicle. The LF-30 advances the iconic spindle grille, and takes a modern form possible with this concept’s electric powertrain. Lines seem to flow smoothly from the illuminated Lexus logo all the way to the rear of the car. Large wheels and short overhangs emphasize the performance orientation of the LF-30. The futuristic styling is accompanied by an advanced powertrain that features four in-wheel motors and steering-by-wire, which would provide not only outstanding handling and performance, but allow a more spacious interior design.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceLexus LF-30 Concept
The advanced cockpit of the LF-30 is designed for manual or autonomous driving, with steering-wheel-controlled switches and a head-up display. The LF-30 uses next-generation interfaces that use gesture control while presenting information with augmented reality displays. Access to the interior is via very large gull-wing style doors. As part this look to 2030 at the Tokyo show, Lexus announced plans to debut its first production battery-electric vehicle next month, with its first plug-in hybrid and a new dedicated electric vehicle platform coming in the next few years. The ultimate plan will be to have some level of electrification in every Lexus vehicle by 2025.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMazda MX-30
Since nearly every car company seems to be getting on the electrification bandwagon, Mazda has thrown its hat into the ring with the introduction of the all-new fully-electric MX-30. Styling fits nicely with the rest of the Mazda SUV lineup, but the MX-30 stands out with a unique design element. The rear doors are rear-hinged — similar to the Mazda RX-8 sports car. With no center pillar, this provides easy access to the interior; however, it appears that the rear doors cannot be opened without first opening the front doors.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMazda MX-30
Powering the MX-30 is the Mazda’s new electric propulsion system called e-SKYACTIV. Details of the new powertrain were somewhat scarce in Tokyo; however, some reports say the electric motor output is around 140 horsepower with a range of about 130 miles. The MX-30 features a stylish cabin with a clean dashboard design. Several of the surfaces in front are also covered in cork, paying homage to the company’s founding in 1920 as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd. While the MX-30 is slated to go on sale in Japan next year, there has been no official word about plans to bring this new EV to America.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes Vision EQS
Introduced at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Vision EQS provides a look to the future with a fully-electric luxury vehicle possessing a spacious interior and a futuristic design. Mercedes-Benz describes the Vision EQS as a milestone on the way to the future of Mercedes-Benz with a focus on sustainability, high-quality vehicles and self-determined driving. In creating the Vision EQS, Mercedes-Benz incorporated supreme craftsmanship, emotive design, luxury materials and individual driving experience. The flowing exterior design combines luxury and aerodynamics, and the prominent “lightbelt” separates the silver lower body from the upper black panel and glass.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMercedes Vision EQS
As insight to the future of electric luxury vehicles, Vision EQS is motivated by powerful electric motors; the front and rear axles produce a combined output of approximately 469 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque. The electric all-wheel-drive system varies torque distribution between the front and rear axles, and Vision EQS will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. Battery capacity is approximately 100 kWh, and range is estimated to be 435 miles. With a 350 kW charging capacity, the Vision EQS battery can be recharged to 80 percent in less than 20 minutes.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMitsubishi Mi-TECH Concept
Over the years Mitsubishi has shown some rather outlandish concept vehicles in Tokyo, and while the MI-TECH Concept that debuted at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show would fall into that category, it is one of our favorites. Up front sits a prominent grille that features copper highlights designed to communicate the fact that this is an electric vehicle. Large wheels with big fenders flares give the MI-TECH a look of being able to conquer any terrain, while the open-air cockpit indicates that the occupants will have a blast doing the conquering. The interior is kept simple, with much relevant information presented to the driver via a head-up display.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMitsubishi Mi-TECH Concept
The MI-TECH Concept employs a lightweight plug-in hybrid system that uses a small gas turbine engine to operate as a generator, showcasing how a system like this can fit into a small SUV. Fitted with a Quad Motor 4WD System, the MI-TECH would have excellent off-road control with front and rear Dual-Motor Active Yaw Control — if two wheels are off the ground, power can easily be directed to the wheels that still have traction. Mitsubishi also points out that with the ability to control the power at each wheel, there can be “thrilling new driving experiences such as 180-degree spins by counter-rotating the left and right tires.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMitsubishi Super Height K-Wagon Concept
The Kei wagon is not a vehicle style that ever became popular in America, but in Japan these vehicles are everywhere. Offering its take on this unique form of transportation, Mitsubishi introduced the Super Height K-Wagon Concept. With a very small footprint, the Super Height K-Wagon offers plenty of utility with styling designed to emulate the look of Mitsubishi SUVs.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMitsubishi Super Height K-Wagon Concept
One of the big reasons behind the popularity of Kei vehicles —besides their small footprint and thrifty fuel economy— is their excellent use of interior space. The Super Height K-Wagon Concept has large door openings with an emphasis on maximizing rear-seat passenger space. While other concepts at the Mitsubishi stand were quite futuristic, this K-Wagon looks ready for production, representing the next-generation Kei wagon for Mitsubishi. Although these vehicles could catch on and be quite popular in America, there are no plans for the Kei wagon to reach our side of the Pacific.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Ariya Concept
Over the last few years, Nissan has shown a plethora of concept vehicles at auto shows around the world, all intended to provide a glimpse toward what the company plans for the future. Making its world debut at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the Ariya Concept is a small all-electric crossover that introduces an all-new look for Nissan. Although earlier concepts have provided hints about future design, the Ariya Concept is the closest to a production model thus far. Even though elements of current Nissan designs can be recognized in the Ariya Concept, the new vehicle design takes things a giant step further, both for the brand and for what is likely a unique look for the brand’s electric vehicles. The signature V-Motion grille is still at the front; however, with the Ariya the overall size is broader, incorporating thin LED headlights and what Nissan calls the “shield,” emblazoned with an illuminated Nissan logo.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan Ariya Concept
The Ariya Concept is built with an all-new vehicle architecture likely to be the basis for all future Nissan EV models. With a twin-electric motor powertrain — one in front, one at the rear — the system should provide instant acceleration as well as the grip and handling of all-wheel drive. This electric all-wheel-drive system is designed to manage power delivery to the road for better cornering and handling on dry pavement, or when the surfaces offer less grip. Although there has been no official word on plans for this new EV, it could certainly be the basis of a new vehicle in Nissan’s near future.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan IMk Concept
While the Ariya Concept is closer to a vehicle Nissan would likely sell in America, the automaker also introduced the IMk Concept here in Tokyo. The IMk is more reflective of the small, urban commuter cars seen all over Tokyo. Many of Nissan’s new design elements are also incorporated in the IMk, which provides another glimpse into how these new designs will find their way into the Nissan EV range: vehicles of differing styles could all be built on the same EV platform.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan IMk Concept
Inside, the IMk concept is more like a living room than an automobile. The boxy shape provides a roomy interior that features lounge-like seating as well as thick carpeting. Other than the start button and shifter, this concept’s thin dashboard has no physical controls. Powering up the IMk reveals cabin comfort controls and settings with soft glowing icons within the Akagane trim – very similar to the design in the Ariya Concept. “The IMk concept provides a glimpse of the new direction of Nissan Intelligent Mobility as technology evolves toward electrification and connectivity,” said Asako Hoshino, Nissan’s executive vice president overseeing global marketing and sales as well as the brand’s global EV business.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubaru Levorg Prototype
Of all vehicles showcased at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show that will never come to America, the Levorg may be the one we’ll miss the most, because this touring wagon is based on the high-performance Subaru STI. At this year’s Tokyo show, Subaru’s prototype of the next-generation Levorg moves onto Subaru’s new global platform — the same platform that underpins the Outback, Impreza, Ascent and Forester. The only all-wheel-drive model in America that isn’t on the new platform yet is the STI, so this prototype does offer hope that a new STI will be coming soon to the U.S. market.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSubaru Levorg Prototype
The Levorg prototype gets an updated look that, while new, still retains familiar Subaru styling. Powering the prototype is a newly developed 1.8-liter turbocharged Boxer engine that sends power to all four wheels. The production version of the new Levorg is still almost a year away, so while this does indicate that an STI on the new global platform should be in the works, we may still have to wait a bit longer for it to arrive. The latest version of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system will also be in the new Levorg.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuzuki Hanare
This stalwart Japanese automaker with an illustrious, extensive history may not sell vehicles in America anymore, but its large presence at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show confirmed the company’s endurance, and included some of the show’s more entertaining vehicles. A perfect example is the Hanare concept, which takes autonomous driving to a new level. Ultimately the Hanare is a mobile living room that is fully autonomous – there is no steering wheel or cockpit of any kind. Occupants simply sit in their comfortable lounge chairs and watch television while the Hanare takes them where they want to go.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuzuki Hanare
The unique design of the Hanare concept removes the notion of a vehicle’s front and rear – the concept can operate in either direction. The individual drive wheels also let this concept maneuver itself into tight parking spaces as needed. The entire side of the Hanare opens, which adds another dimension to the enjoyment of this vehicle, allowing the passengers to share their space with the outside world – when parked of course.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuzuki Every Go-Anywhere Baby Room
Perhaps the best-named concept at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, this customized Suzuki Every is designed for mother and baby to have everything they need wherever they go. Created in conjunction with Combi – a leading maker of baby products – the Every van has been configured into a nursery on wheels. The idea behind this special Every is that it could provide privacy and support for a mother and baby at outdoor events — or even in case of natural disaster.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuzuki Every Go-Anywhere Baby Room
Privacy shades have been installed in this Every so that “breast feeding can be done with confidence in privacy.” Seats are trimmed in an easy-to-clean material, and the entire paint scheme is designed around a theme of “Relax and Fun.” At the rear of the Every is a diaper-changing bed with all supplies readily available, including paper sheets stored under the bed that can be used to prevent bed soiling during diaper swaps.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuzuki Waku SPO
Sport coupes are not typically known for their versatility, but the Waku SPO concept changes that notion. This coupe can literally transform itself into a wagon. In coupe mode, the Waku SPO sports two large front doors with smaller rear doors that slide backward to provide access to the rear seat. The dashboard is all digital with displays appropriate to the sporty car. But like a retractable-top convertible, a push of a button activates the transformation — a panel opens at the rear and the aft window gets replaced with an enclosed cargo area.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuzuki Waku SPO
When the vehicle is transformed, the rear seats automatically slide to the rear and recline, providing a roomier and more comfortable space. The cockpit appearance also changes to a more family-like vibe thanks to wood trim that covers the sporty gauges. An interesting take on a true “crossover” vehicle that can change its form factor at will, the Waku SPO is truly an interesting concept — but don’t look for this idea to go into production anytime soon.

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