Automotive executives traveling to the late-October Tokyo Motor Show were expecting a little less sparkle this year, as organizers of the show most renowned for glitz, glimmer, and young models in impossibly high platform shoes decide to tone it down in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The Sept. 11 attacks, which ground the Frankfurt Motor show to a halt, also spurred the Japan Motor Industrial Federation to cancel Tokyo's opening ceremonies. Many didn't mind the prospect of a subdued Tokyo show, believing that such moves will restore emphasis where it rightly belongs: on the cars.
And the 39 automakers slated to participate promised to be up to the task. The theme of the 35th biannual show, “Open the Door! The Automobile's Bright Future” was chosen to showcase lifestyle concepts and, as in 1999, tech-centric environmental solutions. Japan's automotive leaderMotor Corp. alone promised 29 concept cars and 56 production cars from 40 vehicle series.
, combined with minivehicle partner Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd., touted its stand as “New Dream-filled Mobility,” which was scheduled to sport a host of vehicles that it hopes are aesthetically and environmentally appealing. Significant among the lineup are the WiLL VC, its newest model targeted at young and hip Japanese consumers, and the Voltz, which will be sold as the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe when it bows in early 2002. Other new Toyota concepts include the “ist” crossover compact and the DMT minivan. The “pod” concept car was developed in collaboration with Sony Corp. and incorporates so many future-technology features (one gauges the driver's “hurriedness” by checking pulse and degree of perspiration) that it could drive itself.
Daihatsu planned a full line of minivehicles, including the U4B Urban 4×4 Buggy, and the futuristic MUSE. Inexpensive, urban-oriented minivehicles have become part of the Japanese recession-era zeitgeist.
Motor Co. Ltd. was expected to highlight environment-friendly technology with a hybrid Civic and a new hybrid sports car, along with the Capa replacement, possibly to be dubbed the Mobilio, a new minicar and a significantly face-lifted NSX.
After several concept versions,Motor Corp. prepared to take the wraps off a production version of the RX-8 rotary-engine sports car. The automaker also was to display a 5-door version of its upcoming new c/d midsize car, which will be billed as the Atenza in Japan and the Mazda 6 in other markets, as well as something called the Secret Hideout, which Mazda officials say hints at the future direction of the brand's interior packaging.
Motor Co. Ltd., along with some six concept cars, scheduled one of the most anticipated unveilings: a production version of the new 3.5L Z. It also was to show a new Primera hatchback, an updated March, and a new minicar, which is being built for the automaker by minivehicle experts Motor Corp.
, which is building plenty of small cars for other OEMs these days, slated the premier of the Chevrolet Cruze in conjunction with Corp., which owns 20% of the Japanese automaker. The Cruze is the production version of the YGM-1 concept shown at Tokyo in 1999 and promises to be the first in a series of co-designed cars slated for the Asian market.
Though the Tokyo auto show is overwhelmingly dominated by the Japanese automakers, DaimlerChrysler got ready to make some noise with a world premier of its own — the Jeep Willys2 concept. The radical design was executed at theGroup's Advanced Design Center in Carlsbad, CA, and is what DaimlerChrysler calls an “ultra-modern interpretation of trademark Jeep design cues,” incorporating a seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches.
Also significant for DaimlerChrysler isMotors Corp.'s Z car, which was meant to give a peek to what will be among the first combined platforms between the two makers (DC owns a controlling share in MMC). The Z is scheduled to launch in Japan in 2003 at Mitsubishi's Mizushima plant and in Europe soon after at the Netherlands Car BV plant and sold under DC's Smart car umbrella.