Japanese Concept Cars Focus on Urban High Tech Motoring

Toyota, Nissan and Honda will be showcasing the very latest in futuristic automotive technology at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, scheduled to open to the public on October 24. The theme of the 2009 show is “Fun Driving for Us, Eco Driving for Earth.”

Nissan has definitely decided to focus on electric cars as the answer to the eco-challenges facing the auto industry. The Leaf, Nissan’s new all electric vehicle, will be available in the United States in late 2010, but that’s not all Nissan has in store for consumers. Also debuting at the Tokyo show will be the Nissan Land Glider.

The Land Glider is a rounded, cocoon shaped, all electric concept car with two seats. It’s only about 10 feet long and three and a half feet wide, and it leans as much as 17 degrees into turns like a motorcycle.

Nissan says the compact Glider’s lightweight, narrow body style can reduce traffic and parking congestion and has potential to be popular among urban short-distance drivers and commuters.

Visitors to the show will also see Honda’s latest hybrid offering, the CR-Z, which is almost ready for production. Recently, Honda has recently intensely on the smaller affordable hybrids such as the Honda Insight. They will be showing the EV-N design study, which is a small four-seater with a battery electric motor. The body style is retro 1960s and the EV-N also has solar cells in the roof and features wireless communication for receiving traffic and charge station information. The EV-N also has a door-stored electric unicycle, the Honda U3-X, which travels in any direction depending on which way the driver leans.

Also among the hybrids will be the Honda Skydeck minivan, which has the hybrid system located in the center tunnel instead of behind the back seats, allowing for more seating and space.

Toyota is expected to show a range of hybrids at the Tokyo show as well. The plug-in version of the Toyota Prius is expected to debut along with the latest model of the FT-EV that was shown earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show.

The FT-EV is the electric version of the Toyota IQ minicar, and the Tokyo version will be ultra-futuristic in that the steering wheel and foot pedals are absent – the steering wheel being replaced by a joystick. It’s described as “an information device on wheels” that actually links up with the owner’s home network for data, music and movies.

Toyota says of the vehicle in a current press release: "The FT-EV II is not simply an electric vehicle designed for a post-fossil fuel era, but is a sustainable concept car that focuses on the relationship between cars, people and society of the future."

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