TOYOTA will unveil its latest fuel cell car and six other concept models at the Tokyo Motor Show, with the vehicles to be shown first to journalists—including The Manila Times—on November 20, three days before the public gets to view them. This year’s Tokyo show—the 43rd staging of Asia’s most significant automotive spectacle—will run until December 1 at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center, located on the outskirts of the Japanese capital.
Toyota said it plans to launch to the mass market its fuel-cell car, called the FCV Concept, in 2015 as the carmaker intends to be a “pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles.” By that time, there will likely be “hundreds” of hydrogen refueling stations in Japan, Europe and the US, it added.
Toyota said the FCV Concept, which can seat four and is larger than its previous version, has a driving range of at least 500 kilometers and can be refueled in as fast as three minutes.
Fuel-cell vehicles are considered the holy grail of green cars because they emit nothing but water vapor from the tailpipe and can operate on renewable hydrogen gas. Toyota’s concept vehicle seeks to jump two key hurdles that analysts say have hindered consumer buying of “green” cars, including electric vehicles—range and the refueling infrastructure required to charge them.
Another important model that Toyota will unveil is the JPN Taxi Concept, a prototype taxi for Japan’s streets that promises green technology while catering to the nation’s rapidly ageing population. The hybrid taxi has a sliding electric door to make entering and exiting the car easier for the wheelchair-bound or people with baby strollers, Toyota said. A screen fixed to the back of the front seats supplies information about routes and taxi fares.
The carmaker said it wants to commercialize the vehicle ahead of an expected surge in demand when the Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.
Toyota will also display the futuristic FV2, which allows standing drivers to change the vehicle’s direction simply by shifting their weight, similar to the Segway, although the car can move at faster speeds. The car’s pop-up windshield can display oncoming objects in a distinct color to alert drivers of their presence.
The vehicle “enhances the driving experience by connecting physically and emotionally with the driver,” Toyota said, as the car eschews a steering wheel and uses voice and image recognition to determine the driver’s mood, accumulated driving history to suggest destinations, and driving skill information. This creates a more “intimate relationship between vehicle and driver,” according to Toyota.
Also set to hit Toyota’s display floors—traditionally the most expansive at the Tokyo Motor Show—are the Voxy and Noah concepts, which Toyota describes as “next-generation spacious minivans” that should cater to families as they boast higher levels of fun, utility and fuel economy. The cars have low floors to create a class-leading roomy cabin that can accommodate seven passengers.
A 2.0-liter gasoline engine and a 1.8-liter hybrid power plant have been created for the Voxy Concept and the Noah Concept, both of which will go into mass production in Japan early next year.
Also headed for the show is the Aqua G Sports, a compact sports car running on hybrid power that was tuned by Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s high-performance division founded by company chief Akio Toyoda—a race driver. The car is expected to be launched at the Tokyo event.
Meanwhile, the i-Road is Toyota’s latest take on electric-powered “personal mobility vehicles,” combining compactness for easy storage, the maneuverability of a motorcycle and the comfort and stability of a car. It has a newly developed active lean system that raises and lowers the left and right front wheels to ensure a stable ride.
One of the most anticipated models not only in the Toyota booth but also in the entire show is the FT-86 Open concept, the convertible version of the carmaker’s hugely popular 86 sports car. The FT-86 Open, which has an electrically actuated fabric top, will be displayed with its own signature red paintjob to set it apart from its fixed-roof sibling. Despite being a droptop, Toyota said the car will retain its 2+2 seating, with minimal infringement on boot space.
WITH A REPORT FROM AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE