Get­ting clever with crazy con­cept cars

TOKYO MO­TOR SHOW/ The Tokyo Mo­tor Show is un­der way and a num­ber of do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers are there in their num­bers, writes Ler­ato Matebese

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

There are al­ways a num­ber of con­cept mod­els dis­played at the Tokyo Mo­tor Show — which is now in its 45th year — and this year’s event is no dif­fer­ent.

Honda is on a roll when it comes to funky, cool con­cepts, hav­ing launched at the Frank­furt Mo­tor Show the EV Con­cept hatch­back, which harked back to the first gen­er­a­tion Civic of the 1970s. Its main pur­pose, how­ever, was to show­case its new elec­tric ve­hi­cle plat­form.

Now the com­pany has added yet an­other con­cept in the form of the Sports EV Con­cept, which is es­sen­tially a sports coupe that will be built on the same, vari­able plat­form as the hatch­back.

It looks fan­tas­tic. That front end is a nod to the Amer­i­can mus­cle car of the 1970s the Dodge Chal­lenger.

Although the de­sign is prob­a­bly more closely re­lated to Honda’s S600 from the 1960s with its sim­ple de­sign and fast­back rear-end. The model is touted to go into pro­duc­tion in 2019, but Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says the model is at this stage only des­tined for Ja­panese and Euro­pean mar­kets.

Then Mazda took the wraps off its Kai con­cept, which fea­tures sharp styling, as part of the Kodo Soul of Mo­tion de­sign phi­los­o­phy, which is quite ob­vi­ous in the re­cently up­dated CX-5 com­pact SUV. This de­sign lan­guage will trickle into a num­ber of the com­pany’s fu­ture mod­els, which in­cludes the next Mazda 3, which could well be based on the Kai. Granted, a few items will be wa­tered down slightly in the pro­duc­tion car, but if the CX-5 is any­thing to go by, then the 3 will be noth­ing short of a stun­ner.

Nis­san showed its IMX cross­over con­cept, which is said to be a prime plat­form for the com­pany’s fu­ture SUVs, in­clud­ing the Rogue in the US, known here as the X-Trail. The IMX has an elec­tric mo­tor on each axle, de­liv­er­ing 160kW each and a com­bined torque fig­ure of 700Nm, out­muscling even the mighty GT-R when it comes to pulling power. It is said to have a range of 600km when fully charged, which is even more than the forth­com­ing new Leaf.

The model is said to have ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tech­nol­ogy, which means it will have some de­gree of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Tomoko Kak­inuma, man­ager of Nis­san’s tech­nol­ogy plan­ning de­part­ment, the IMX will be fit­ted with a 360° sen­sor field to en­able it to achieve fully au­ton­o­mous driv­ing. The sys­tem is said to com­prise 12 cam­eras, six laser scan­ners, nine radars and 16 sonar sys­tems.

Toy­ota’s GR HV, which sim­ply trans­lates to Ga­zoo Rac­ing Hy­brid Ve­hi­cle, is es­sen­tially an open-top 86 sports car in the mould of the Mazda MX-5 RF, with a fold­ing metal roof where the C-pil­lar and the rear win­dow re­main in place when the roof is opened. To me this model looks like a plain Jane 86 with a few cos­metic tweaks.

The com­pany says that the model shares a sim­i­lar hy­brid sys­tem to that of its en­durance rac­ing TS050 LMP1 race car. Not quite sure how that is sup­posed to pan out in pro­duc­tion, should it even get that far, but this sort of sys­tem will add more weight to the car due to the added bat­ter­ies, which could mean that the ve­hi­cle might lose some of that dy­namic sheen we so love.

In ad­di­tion, this par­tic­u­lar model is said to be an au­to­matic, but the gear lever still has the H pat­tern that al­ludes to a man­ual trans­mis­sion. So, which one is it, then, Toy­ota?

Some­thing more ex­cit­ing, vis­ually speak­ing, is the Yamaha Mo­toroid sports bike con­cept, which its maker has given lit­tle de­tail about, other than that it will have ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence that will make it pos­si­ble for the bike to recog­nise its owner.

But while bikes might be Yamaha’s forte, much of the at­ten­tion was fo­cused on the com­pany’s Cross Hub con­cept. Yamaha has de­vel­oped con­cept cars be­fore, but the Cross Hub is a bakkie, a dif­fer­ent look­ing bakkie. It is dif­fer­ent in­side too, with seating for four, but in a setup that is rather un­usual. The driver sits alone up front, but be­hind are two seats and then a fourth seat is on its own at the back. Why you ask?

Well, Yamaha says the de­sign al­lows more in­te­rior stor­age space but, more im­por­tantly, it al­lows space for two mo­tor­bikes to fit on the back. Clever, but clever is some­thing that the con­cepts at Tokyo are known for and this year was no ex­cep­tion.

Honda has added the Sports EV con­cept to the hatch­back EV it showed at Frank­furt. Left: Nis­san showed its IMX elec­tric cross­over.

We think the Mazda Kai could well be­come the next Mazda 3.

We are not quite sure what Toy­ota is try­ing to do with this GR HV con­cept.

The Yamaha Cross Hub bakkie con­cept has been de­signed mainly to carry mo­tor­bikes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.