SPECIAL REPORT: 2005 Tokyo Motor Show
TCC's Auto Show Index by TCC Team (10/3/2005)
Our coverage of the world's major auto shows, year to year.
2005 Tokyo Motor Show Index by TCC Team (10/18/2005)
By all official accounts, the Lexus sedan shown on the stands at this year's Tokyo Motor Show is a concept. But with its softer, prettier shape sharing so much in common with the new IS and GS sedans, it's hard to imagine the LF-Sh concept being anything but a production-ready version of the next LS sedan. Beneath its comely skin, the LF-Sh bears a V-8 engine mated to a hybrid motor system to produce "an acceleration feeling of a different dimension," as executives describe it. The hybrid powertrain is capable of providing all-wheel drive. The concept LF-Sh is 199.2 inches long, with a 116.9-inch wheelbase-roughly two inches and one inch longer than the current LS 430.Toyotamay be working on a new transmission with seven speeds for the production version of the LF-Sh, along with a lane-departure warning system and an updated version of its night-vision system.
Is it a Segway with a seat? Or the next step in the whole man-machine integration? Toyota's i-swing concept takes the meaning of personal transportation a step smaller and even stranger. The concept is a two- or three-wheel vehicle paraded out for Tokyoaudiences and offered up as an alternative to a four-wheel car for urban transportation. Steering the i-swing is accomplished by either a joystick or by a pair of pedals that respond to driver motion, almost like a pair of skis. The i-swing's body is made of plastics and fabric, the latter of which can be changed out by owners as fashion dictates. An LED panel on the vehicle can also be programmed with the owners' favorite video clips or still images to entertain other i-swingers, it's supposed. Spooky bit: the i-swing is designed to use artificial intelligence to determine the driver's habits and preferences.
If you're looking for the follow-up vehicle to the Scion xB and a spiritual sister to Honda's Element, you've found it in the bB concept, one of a slew of boxy, foxy vehicles set out by Japan's automakers at the Toyotashow. The bB is a Scion-sized compact with an exterior-especially in the junction of the windshield and hood-that resembles Honda's larger crossover vehicle. More rounded and less blocky than the current Scion xB, the bB's electric-green paint is complemented by nightclub lighting inside and a nine-speaker sound system. Turn on your favorite tunes, and the lights bounce along to the beat-even if it's the Carpenters. This "place to chill out" was hardly mentioned in the course of Toyota's press conference, but it's empirically evident that the Scion xB, due for a replacement in a year or so, could end up looking very much like the bB.
Fuel-cell vehicles and minivans are staples of the auto show circuit-put them together and you'll likely have something like Toyota's Fine-X, a concept fuel-cell people-mover with a unique four-wheel independent drive system that allows each wheel to nearly completely rotate. That, Toyotasays, makes "U-turns easy and fun." As if they aren't already! The Fine-X also has an interior crafted from carbon-neutral materials that can be recycled with a minimum of CO2-induced guilt. And the most attractive aspect of the Fine-X is its hospitable interior, which is crafted around a four-passenger cockpit with front seats that power themselves out of the vehicle to "greet" passengers and grant them easier access, aided also by the gullwing doors. Toyotapromises a Camry-sized interior in compact-car dimensions - the same words they used to describe the Prius when it launched two years ago. Hmmm.
It's not a sedan, and not a minivan-and it's not the Mazda5, despite the similarities with that vehicle. The Toyota FSC, or Flexible Saloon Concept, is a five-door vehicle smaller than conventionally-sized U.S.minivans but not quite as small as the likes of the Scion xB. The "Vibrant Clarity" design theme gives the FSC an elegant stance and a D-pillar reminiscent of the Lexus RX crossover. The concept's tailgate has a two-way action; the lower portion slides up for access to the cargo area, or the whole tailgate can be lifted for more space. Barely acknowledged during the Toyota press conference, the FSC looks as if it really wants to be with its design siblings at Lexus-and suggests to us there's room for a smaller-than-RX crossover in the upscale brand's lineup.