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2003 Tokyo Motor Show, Part III


2003 Tokyo Motor Show Index (10/21/2003)

Cartoon Characters

Anima Girl

Anima Girl

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2003 Los Angeles Auto Show Ford banner with type

2003 Los Angeles Auto Show Ford banner with type

As reporters enter Makuhari Messe, the convention center housing the biennial Tokyo Motor Show, they’re greeted by the ear-splitting road of 20 road racing simulators. Along the side aisles, auto parts makers and aftermarket vendors pitch digital gadgetry for your car, as well as auto-related games for your car. The Japanese are electronic crazy, and that passion is often combined with their fascination with animation. We’re not talking Disney. Japanese “anime” tends to be raw, sexy, brutal, blending sci-fi hardware with dungeons-and-dragons settings. Unlike American comics and cartoons, anime crosses into the Japanese mainstream, so much so that a sizable portion of the guys and — mostly —   young women on the auto-show stands have been dressed in costumes right out of the latest comic books. Of course, skimpy also sells in Japan, so “cheesecake” remains a must-have for automakers’ stands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invasion of the Pod People

2003 Toyota PM conceptt

2003 Toyota PM conceptt

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No, this Toyota concept, one of the big draws of the show, was not created for the remake of Invasion of the Pod People. Nor is it meant to show the future design of the vending machines ever so popular with Japanese consumers. The name is short for “Personal Mobility,” explained Toyota CEO Fujio Cho, during the automaker’s hour in the auto-show spotlight. Like most automakers, Toyota is searching for ways to win over a new generation of buyer, and this is its cutting-edge idea of what might find a niche in tomorrow’s crowded urban environment. Rather than driving a PM, the automaker suggests you’d “wear” the electric vehicle, which has a variety of modes that result in the passenger pod moving up and down. When you get to your destination, the seat gently lowers you to the ground — without anyone having to insert a coin.

 

2003 Toyota Fine-N concept

2003 Toyota Fine-N concept

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A Fine Idea

Cho declared the Fine-N concept the “ultimate eco-car,” and “the culmination of 100 years of vehicle development.” While others might resist such superlatives, there’s no question the prototype will be drawing plenty of attention as a high-line showcase for Toyota technology. Built around a new, low-profile fuel-cell stack, the Fine-N features an extremely low, flat floor that, because of its close-to-the-road

Toyota SU-HV1

Toyota SU-HV1

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center of gravity, minimizes concerns about SUV rollovers. Four in-wheel motors mean all-wheel-drive control. By integrating a lithium-ion battery and increased fuel tank pressures, Toyota claims a cruising range of more than 300 miles.

 

Many industry leaders promote the idea that hybrid-electric technology is just a stop-gap until the fuel cell is ready for prime time. Cho disputed that concept, arguing that

Toyota CS&S

Toyota CS&S

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HEVs will find long-term application in the auto industry. To underscore that point, Toyota rolled out a number of show cars integrating the automaker’s sophisticated, second-generation Hybrid Synergy Drive. That included the obviously named SU-HV1. The sport-ute hybrid blends electric drive with a 3.3-liter V-6 engine.

 

The CS&S 2+2 mounts its  Synergy drive midship to give the roadster sports car handling. An even more advanced version of the hybrid technology is mated to a 1.5-liter gasoline engine, and rigged to provide all-wheel-drive. The CS&S’s rear seats can be hidden away by a sliding canopy when not in use.


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