As expected from Tokyo, we saw a lot of new and wacky concepts, from some of Japan's top car brands. Electric powered, hybrid vehicles and even a gas powered Mitsubishi. Rumours also flew about models to come, while the whole show was overshadowed a little later in the week as Volkswagen rudely stole the limelight with the new Golf reveal. There was still plenty to enjoy at the Tokyo motor show in 2019 however, here is my pick of the bunch.
Mitsubishi's Mad Mi-Tech
To start off, Mitsubishi hit the headlines with an open-top, plug-in hybrid SUV concept. The concept is set to showcase the next generation ASX SUV model. The outlandish styling is designed to capture the audiences imagination, as well as hint at the new styling features of the upcoming ASX model.
While the Mi-Tech is electrically powered, it does not go about it in a conventional manner. The car uses a gas turbine to charge the on-board batteries, the turbine can run on petrol, diesel, alcohol or kerosene. Though the next generation car will appear with more traditional plug-in hybrid and full electrical guises. The batteries power two electric motors, one on each axle, to provide four-wheel drive.
The interior of the Mi-Tech is sparse and very modern in it's minimalist design. Rather than a large touchscreen, the car uses a display projected onto the windscreen. This is supposedly a hint at the future Mitsubishi models to come.
Dramatic Concept from Lexus
Normally a company that makes cars that fly under the radar, Lexus turned up in Tokyo with an extremely outlandish concept called the LX-30. The car is a fully electric look into Lexus's electrified future models, also displaying the brands autonomous technology developments.
The cars design is particularly futuristic, with roof mounted doors and very short overhangs front and rear. The design and technology are said to be set to appear on cars from the Lexus brand beginning in around 2030, hence the overtly futuristic styling. The size meanwhile is somewhere close to the current Jaguar i-Pace, with a weight of around 2400kg. The interior is similarly futuristic to the exterior, with a retractable steering wheel, receding to the dashboard when the driver activates the autonomous driving mode.
The concept car uses a solid state battery rated at 150kW to provide over 300 miles of range. The motors meanwhile are individual wheel mounted units, which, according to designers, will provide superior handling and instant torque. The motors provide the equivalent of 536bhp, allowing for a spritely 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds, impressive when you consider it's hefty kerb weight.
Toyota's Confusing e-Racer
Toyota's concept revealed at Tokyo, labelled the e-Racer, has been designed to show us that there will still be fun driving experiences available in a world of autonomous vehicles. The concept however is not actually a driveable vehicle, with interested parties having the ability to 'drive' the e-Racer on the world's race tracks via the medium of virtual reality glasses.
Toyota boss Akio Toyoda compared the e-Racer to a futuristic racehorse, alluding to the fact that horses are still used for racing while their use in day-to-day applications was removed due to internal combustion engines. The company is suggesting that driving will become a hobby rather than a daily activity, hopefully this will ring true in the future for those of us who enjoy a B-road blast.
Mazda's Budget SUV
This, the MX-30 is Mazda's dive into the deep-end of the electric SUV market, eschewing the common trend of starting with hybrid models to lower themselves in gently. Mazda revealed it's MX-30 model, utilising the platform of a Mazda 3/ CX-30 and adding a full electrical powertrain, this includes a 141bhp electric motor and a 35.5kWh battery, giving the car a range of just 130 miles.
The range may be small but Mazda says it's smaller battery packs are more eco-friendly and have more than enough range for the average customers daily needs. Interestingly however, Mazda plans to offer a range extender model that utilises an engine to re-charge the batteries, with the possibility of this being a hydrogen-fuel unit.
The Mazda's interior and exterior stick to it's current design theme's, not looking overly dissimilar to the CX-30 model, just with a slightly more futuristic EV vibe. With the UK government grant, the car will retail for under £30,000, making it one of the more affordable EV vehicles on sale, expect cars to go on sale in early 2021.
Time for a new Z?
According to the companies vice-president of design, Alfonso Albaisa, a new 'Z' car should not be written off. Nissan have made it clear that they are proud of the 'Z' car heritage and are keen on continuing the model.
These exciting rumours have been further backed up since the show, with prototypes of a new car seen testing on the Nurburgring. The new prototypes are currently modified versions of the current 370Z, seen being tested in light-camouflage against the new Toyota Supra. Seems like Nissan are gearing up for an attack on the two-seater sports car market, whether this will be a traditional combustion engine (with or without forced induction) or a hybrid/ EV model is yet to be seen. I for one hope to see the Z badge on a new Nissan in the near future.