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.
Join us for a walk around Toyota Auto Body’s unique Alhpard Hercule concept in our above video.
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.”
This open cruiser is equipped with a sophisticated interior that “offers a premium sense of freedom and openness,” and is “ideally suited to spending a holiday such as this.”
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 vehicle’s floor mimics hardwood flooring while a lounge-style sofa for the third-row creates a spiffy look that resembles the cabin of a yacht.
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.
Our video captures the new Sports Ride concept on a turntable in the Yamaha exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show.
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.
With many companies from the energy, material and service fields, the event aimed to showcase the innovative Japanese technology of “Smart Communities,” and “ITS” with automobiles at the core.
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.
Outside the hall, an Automated Driving and Advanced Driver Assistance System Demonstration was also held on Tokyo Big Sight’s rooftop exhibition area.
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.
Tomica Corner has been staged at every Tokyo Motor Show since 2001. The Tomy Company display is always a very popular attraction with its collectible toy cars and sets.
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.
Visit the links below for our additional stories:
2015 Tokyo Motor Show Part 1 – Honda, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota
2015 Tokyo Motor Show Part 2 – Daihatsu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Suzuki
2015 Tokyo Motor Show Part 3 – BMW, DS, Mercedes-Benz, Mini and Porsche
Story, photos and videos © 2015 CarNichiWa.com