Association, Inc.

Issue No. 1, 2014

The 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

by Peter Nunn

As a showcase for the life and times, hopes and dreams of the Japanese auto industry, the biennial Tokyo Motor Show has long been a major must-see on the global automotive calendar.  Its latest edition, the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show, which ran from November 22 through December 1 at Tokyo Big Sight, clearly built on the success of the previous show in 2011, with more manufacturers present, more global reveals, a higher attendance (902,800 visitors, up 7%), and a raft of stronger designs throughout the show halls.  

This new-look Tokyo Show was also promoted in a series of novel and intelligent ways.  To help ‘build the mood’, a massive Odaiba Motor Festival was staged locally the weekend before, featuring a magnificent street parade of 60 vehicles and a mix of other car/motorcycle-themed events to key up anticipation.

Then, on the eve of the Tokyo Show, ‘Mobilityscape Tokyo’ took place.  This was an unprecedented mass media event which featured top executives from the Japanese car industry on stage, talking about Japan’s power of innovation and recovery from the devastating earthquake of 2011.  No less remarkable was the way these top auto leaders spoke frankly about some of the challenges facing the industry, including the fact that many young Japanese seem to have given up on the idea of owning a car.

The next morning, the motoring community duly decamped to Tokyo Big Sight for the first of the show’s press days.  If the Tokyo Show had a lot of razzamatazz and glitz 20 years ago, the modern interpretation is coolly professional, with an emphasis on sharp design and, naturally, cutting-edge green-based high technology.

Daihatsu Pico Daihatsu Pico

Picking some cars from the show, Toyota showed the FCV, as a preview to a forthcoming hydrogen fuel-cell production model; from Mitsubishi came the Concept XR-PHEV, a promising idea for a future compact crossover plug-in hybrid; Nissan unveiled the BladeGlider, an avant-garde, 3-seat electric-powered prototype; Honda introduced its compact, sporty mid-engined S660 Concept; Daihatsu revealed a new style of Kopen mini sports car, also 660 cc; Suzuki came out with the Hustler, a boxy mini crossover; Subaru gave a world premiere to its Cross Sport Design Concept; and Mazda displayed a new CNG-powered version of the Mazda3 (Axela) compact.

Daihatsu Pico Daihatsu Pico

Daihatsu PicoSome key new production models for Japan were also showcased, such as the Honda Vezel compact crossover, the Subaru Levorg wagon and the Lexus RC coupe.

Daihatsu PicoIn an age when many show cars are previewed in advance, Nissan created a genuine press-day buzz by revealing (unannounced) two IDx concepts: retro-themed sporty sedans conceived using input from consumers and in particular, young video gamers.

The 43rd Tokyo Show also had a number of key import world premieres from Jaguar, BMW, VW and Porsche, which added to the lustre of the show in the face of increasing global competition.

Daihatsu PicoLooking to the future, ‘Smart Mobility City’, a special eco-car arena, was again set up this year, to show how cars and future transport ideas can connect with people’s lives and society.  Test rides of new-age personal mobility vehicles were on hand and advanced driver assistance systems were also demonstrated.

The 2013 Tokyo Motor Show proved to be an upbeat show with a strong attendance and with plenty that showcased the innovation, spirit and originality of the Japanese auto industry.

Here’s to the next Tokyo Motor Show, in 2015.