Japanese Brands Expected to Dominate Tokyo Motor Show

In years past, the Tokyo Motor Show was the dominant event for automakers seeking to make a splash with new models and innovative technologies.  With the emergence of the China market in recent years, the Beijing and Shanghai auto shows have overshadowed the Tokyo show.

In 2009, virtually no major foreign auto companies exhibited at the Tokyo show. Although Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen plan to attend this year’s event, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have decided to sit this one out.

Attempting to spark renewed interest, organizers are moving the venue for this year’s Tokyo Motor Show to Tokyo Big Sight convention center located in the city’s waterfront district. For the past 20 years, the show has been held at the larger Makuhari Messe convention center in nearby Chiba.

Although Toyota, Honda and Nissan are expected to dominate the show, BMW and Volkswagen are expected to unveil a few new models.  BMW will unveil its new 4-series hybrid vehicle and Volkswagen plans to unveil two new concept vehicles; a crossover similar to the popular X6 and an all-wheel-drive wagon version of its Passat tentatively named the Alltrack. The Alltrack will reportedly go on sale in Japan in the spring of 2012.

Toyota is expected to unveil its new Aqua compact hybrid model which it plans to market as the Prius C in the U.S.  The company has also chose the Tokyo Motor Show to launch a sporty vehicle that was developed through its strategic alliance with Subaru as well as concept versions of a new electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

Honda will premier its new AC-X plug-in hybrid sedan along with two concept models at the show. The Micro Commuter Concept vehicle is a lithium-ion battery-powered, three-seat car with an operational range of 37 miles between charges.

Nissan is expected to show its new NV350 van which is expected to go on sale in Japan in the summer of 2012. It will also unveil the latest version of its Pivo3. The vehicle’s predecessor was first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005. The Pivo3 features in-wheel motors that allow the vehicle’s wheels to turn independently which gives it a mere 6.5-foot turning radius.

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