By Steve Laser and Craig Nicol reporting from Tokyo, Japan
One of the things we’ve learned covering the Tokyo Motor Show for more than 20 years is to check out every exhibit because we never know where surprises might be lurking. This year we were floored by two concepts in the “Vehicle Bodies” and motorcycle areas.
Toyota Auto Body
It was a shock to turn a corner and encounter one of the most distinctive faces in this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota Auto Body is a 70-year-old company within the Toyota Group that builds minivans, SUVs and commercial vehicles.
One of the vans it makes is called the Toyota Alphard, a popular midsize van in Japan that was restyled this year along with its sister ship called Vellfire. Toyota Auto Body took the former and created a one-of-a-kind “land yacht” concept dubbed Alphard Hercule that made its debut in Tokyo.
The company says the concept’s name pays homage to Port Hercule, a yacht harbor in the Principality of Monaco, and also from Hercules in Greek myth, whose name means “unrivaled strength.”
Join us for a walk around Toyota Auto Body’s unique Alhpard Hercule concept in our above video.
“The Alphard Hercule Concept is sure to entice you to spend a splendid holiday just like you have seen in the movies,” said Takahiro Iwase, president of Toyota Auto Body, during the company’s press conference. “Kick back in the large, lounge sofa and share a glass of champagne with your friends.”
As we stared at the concept, we watched the large retractable soft top open to reveal a sparkling white yacht-like wood-trimmed cabin.
The huge front grille and aerodynamic components on the roof are said to contribute to the marine cruiser ambience, while “an elegant style is evoked through the azure bodyside graphics in the image of the wind and waves.”
While Yamaha’s press conference was focused on motorcycles, it surprised us by introducing a sports car called the Sports Ride concept. Yamaha has a history building some exciting four-wheel machines like the Toyota 2000GT produced in a joint project for Toyota.
“This design concept model takes a uniquely Yamaha approach,” said Hiroyuki Yanagi, president and representative director of Yamaha Motor. “By putting the involved and active feeling of riding a motorcycle or ‘live and ride’ into a vehicle with quintessential sports car proportions that adults can enjoy in daily use.”
Our video captures the new Sports Ride concept on a turntable in the Yamaha exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show.
“It was designed to express a driver-machine relationship close in feeling to the world of motorcycles,” said Yanagi “We devoted much attention to the high-quality details and were inspired by the artistic style of Elementarism for the overall design. It is a proposal for a distinctly Yamaha sports car that embodies our Jin-Ki Kanno ideal for becoming one with the machine.”
Like Yamaha’s Motiv, a compact two-seat commuter car concept shown at the last Tokyo Motor Show, the Sports Ride uses iStream® which is a process developed by Gordon Murray Design to produce lightweight, high-rigidity vehicle structures rooted in Formula One technology. The concept is to create a basic structure by bonding composite panels to a tubular frame.
Smart Mobility City
With the Tokyo Motor Show “aiming to become one of the top technology motor shows in the world,” the organizers presented Smart Mobility City 2015 as the third in the biennial series.
Honda’s MBEV (Mobile Battery EV) concept (above) is an ultra-small two-seater with a detachable mobile battery pack as the power supply. Honda says “you can select the battery capacity that matches the necessary cruising range and by combining parts and accessories we propose the possibility of using it in many different ways.”
The keyword for this year’s Smart Mobility City was “freedom” with the showcase of future car concepts, lifestyles and society with the freedom to choose energy, access information and services, and the freedom for visitors with disabilities to safely, easily and conveniently travel, said the organizers.
Twenty-three companies and organizations from the information and communication industry, environment, energy technology, material and urban society infrastructure fields presented their latest products and services.
Exhibitors included automakers Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota, suppliers like Asahi Glass, Hitachi, and Pioneer, and technology such as ITS Japan, the Research Association of Hydrogen Supply/Utilization Technology, and Ninebot Inc.
A special course was built near the exhibits to allow visitors to experience Personal Mobility and Micro Mobility in a ride-and-drive setting that started inside the building and travelled to the outdoor parking area.
We highlight the Smart Mobility City lineup of Micro Mobility vehicles in our video including the Toyota i-ROAD, Nissan New Mobility Concept, Honda MC-Beta, Zied-C1, and Toyota Auto Body Coms.
Our video shows practice runs of the Subaru Forester and XV in preparation for the show’s opening to the public.
In addition, the show offered a passenger car and motorcycle test-ride program for the public allowing visitors to experience vehicles on a closed-road course within the outdoor space.
Just For Fun
Kids of all ages had plenty to see and do at the Tokyo Motor Show during the public days.
Check out the wide variety of model cars, trucks, trains and track layouts at Tomica Corner in our video (and watch adults waiting in line to buy them).
With tired feet and happy memories, we wrap up another Tokyo Motor Show. We look forward to attending the 45th edition scheduled for the autumn of 2017.
Click on the links below for our additional 2015 Tokyo Motor Show stories:
Story, photos and video © Copyright 2015 CarNichiWa.com