The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show opens to the press this week--and if you think the Detroit auto show plays to the home crowd, consider the lineup of world debuts for Tokyo this year.
They're all from Japan's car companies. Not a single mass-market brand outside the home market is staging an important introduction in Tokyo this year. In part, it's due to the worldwide financial mess--but maybe more troubling to the show's organizers, it's a status update on the Tokyo show's declining influence and on Japan's shrinking home market. Toyota's most important new 2010 model--the Prius--was in fact launched earlier this year in Detroit.
Still, the Tokyo Motor Show's an open invitation for the world's automakers to study each other's latest moves. Particularly for green-car enthusiasts, the Tokyo show's always a fertile ground for hybrid and electric-car concepts. And from the looks of it, the usual dose of truly strange machinery will show up at the Makuhari Messe as well--witness the Nissan Land Glider below.
High Gear Media is tuning in to the Tokyo Show all week long, with reports on the new cars and new concepts unveiled for the press. What's the news from the floor before the show even starts? Here's a preview of what we'll show you later this week:
2009 Honda CR-Z concept carEnlarge Photo
Ready for a global introduction at last, the CR-Z takes the original 2007 concept from Honda and adapts it for production as the company's next hybrid vehicle. No details have been released but from the images it appears the interior and minor details such as the lights and bumpers resemble production items more closely than the pieces on the original 2007 CR-Z concept car. As for the actual production version due next year, it's currently being designed and engineered in Europe, its expected key market, and is rumored to feature a 140-horsepower peak power rating from its hybrid drivetrain.
Nissan LEAFEnlarge Photo
Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the LEAF is a mid-size hatchback that comfortably seats five adults and has a range of more than 100 miles to satisfy real-world consumer requirements. Key characteristics include a zero-emission powertrain and platform, an “affordable” price tag and a connected mobility intelligent transportation (IT) system. Power will come from laminated compact lithium-ion batteries, which generate an output of over 120 hp, while the electric motor itself delivers 107 hp of output and 206 lb-ft of torque. And with the ability to regain up to 80 percent of its full charge in just 30 minutes, it can get back on the road again in a hurry. A full charge takes about 8 hours, a typical overnight duration.
2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid ConceptEnlarge Photo
The plans for this first factory-built plug-in Prius are very modest. Only about 500 vehicles will be built, so Toyota can gather real-world data on how drivers actually use plug-in hybrids. The first users will be selected commercial fleets; 150 will go to Europe, and the same number to the U.S. market, with first deliveries starting by the end of this year. Toyota hasn't committed to a date when retail customers will be able to get their hands on a factory plug-in Prius, although 2012 would fit the rough timeline it has discussed in the past.
2008 Lexus LF-A Roadster ConceptEnlarge Photo
It's been making the auto show circuit for a long time, but the Lexus LF-A supercar may finally see its debut in Tokyo. We're hearing word of a 4.8-liter V-10 engine and aerodynamics that have been tweaked to pass the 500-horsepower and 200-mph barrier. The engine now puts out 550 horsepower, while the top speed has reached a lofty 218 mph--in the same territory as supercars like the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 and the 2009 Nissan GT-R. A version of the engine may also power the upcoming 2012 Lotus Esprit. Stay tuned this week for full photos, information and video as soon as the usual embargo walls break.
2009 Toyota FT-86 ConceptEnlarge Photo