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Honda showcases flying car, Toyota reveals EV concept at Japan Auto Show

Honda showcases flying car, Toyota reveals EV concept at Japan Auto Show

Tokyo’s rebranded auto show returns four years later with big focus on electric vehicles and future mobility just as China looks set to overtake Japan

 Honda Prelude Japan Auto Show
A general view of the Honda Prelude Concept during its unveiling at a press day of the Japan Mobility Show 2023 at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan. (REUTERS)

Japan’s carmakers are staging their first motor show in four years to make the case they’ll remain major global forces to be reckoned with in the electric-vehicle age.

The rebadged Japan Mobility Show will be counter-programming of sorts to worrisome trends: the host country may well lose its position as the world’s top car exporter to China, and third-largest economy to Germany this year. With their domestic market shrinking and parts of Europe and the US rapidly embracing EVs, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and their peers are under escalating pressure to transition from internal combustion engines.

Honda Takes on Air, Sea and Space

Honda is showing an electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, an avatar robot as well as its HondaJet business plane at the show.

“My dream is to create a world where people can move freely on the ground, sea and air, as well as outer space, in vehicles bearing the Honda logo, CEO Toshihiro Mibe said during a presentation.

The Prelude appears to be making a comeback. The popular two-door sports car, which was retired in 2001, is now under development as an electric vehicle.

“Honda has been focusing on sports cars in all eras,» Mibe said. “This is something that only Honda can do.»

Subaru Has a Motorsports EV and Flying Car

Subaru unveiled a motorsports EV concept as well as a flying car it said has already taken to the skies in preliminary tests. The key is figuring out how people will adapt to them.

“We believe air mobility will become a useful means of transportation in the future, but for that we need customers to appreciate how it might fit into their lifestyles,» CEO Atsushi Osaki told reporters. “That will take time.»

Mercedes Hoping to Double Japan EV Sales in 2023

Mercedes-Benz Japan CEO Kintaro Ueno said he’s hopeful the company will double its EV sales in the country this year, having sold about 1,000 in 2021 and twice as many in 2022.

The German automaker, which launched revamped versions of its GLE SUVs last month, is considering installing fast chargers in Japan in 2024 to help drivers efficiently power their vehicles, Ueno said.

Mazda Puts Iconic Rotary Engine Into Plug-In Hybrid

Mazda Motor unveiled a concept sports car that uses the carmaker’s rotary engine technology in a hybrid powertrain with a battery that can also be plugged in for charging. The vehicle can be used for everything from commuting, to driving on racetracks or for weekend outings, he said.

“We want to expand the circle of people who feel love for cars,» CEO Masahiro Moro said of the “Mazda Iconic SP» prototype.

Toyota Kicks Off With Focus on Battery-Based Cars

Toyota CEO Koji Sato kicked off the show at a jam-packed news conference Wednesday with battery-based concept cars that he said would define the carmaker’s future.

Departing from speeches by his predecessor Akio Toyoda, Sato focused exclusively on EVs during his 15 minutes onstage and didn’t get into Toyota’s view that hybrid powertrains and other technologies such as hydrogen will also help it move toward a carbon-neutral future, which has drawn criticism before.

“They aren’t just eco-friendly, they also offer driving pleasure, and they can also offer diverse experiences,» Sato said. Different customers will have different needs, and Toyota will offer something for everyone, he said.

Concept Cars Point Way to Toyota’s EV Future

Crowds of journalists from around the world packed into Toyota Motor’s booth to watch Sato unveil several EV concepts, including a sports car and an SUV, as well as a modular pickup truck and minivan.

“This is the future that awaits us,» Sato told reporters.

The FT-Se and FT-3e provided a glimpse of the fully electric line-up Toyota will roll out in 2026, while the IMV 0 and Kayoibako offered options that can be personalized based on owners’ needs. These EVs will use Toyota’s forthcoming in-house software, Arene, which Sato said would let drivers order food and access entertainment.

First Published Date: 25 Oct 2023, 10:19 AM IST