Celebrating its 44th appearance, the Tokyo Motor Show, the giant conflagration of all things automobile, design, tech and motorsports comes together in the Tokyo District of Koto, makes its biennial appearance at the gigantic exposition center colloquially known as Tokyo Big Sight (東京ビッグサイト, Tōkyō Biggu Saito). And a big sight (or site) it is! Since the show opened on October 29 there have already been half a million visitors, so it’s possible they may get more than 1 million attendees by the time the show closes on Sunday, November 8.
In anticipation of the return of the Tokyo Motor Show, we’ve been catching up on reruns of Anthony Bourdain’s culinary cultural tours, including an insightful episode of Without Reservations that takes place in Tokyo’s different neighborhoods. We also took in a Netflix view of the 2003 film Lost in Translation. So if you are visiting Tokyo virtually — from the comfort of your armchair — these selections can help set the mood for your visit.
They will also serve as a reminder of Japan’s obsession with materials and exquisite details — something we share here at Formaspace when creating our custom furniture lines. It’s been four years since Japan was shaken to its core — literally — by the massive 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in the Sendai region north of Tokyo. Fortunately enough time has passed since this unprecedented disaster that people can really get into celebrating the amazingly diverse, offbeat and sometimes crazy concept cars and futuristic technologies on display at Big Sight. In short, we’re happy to see Japanese automobile manufacturers return to the Tokyo Motor Show with swagger and style.
Lexus and their LF-FC Concept Car
Swagger and style is right, starting with Lexus and their LF-FC concept car. First, let’s decode the letters: LF stands for Lexus Future, e.g. a concept car. FC stands for fuel-cell. So it’s a swoopy fuel-cell powered four-door grand touring car. According to Lexus, this styling theme embodies what they call their “L-finesse” design philosophy. Whatever it’s called, it’s gorgeous. This concept car is also quite advanced technologically: a high output fuel-cell power system energizes the rear wheels while sending electricity to the two front wheels which are powered by hub mounted electric motors. The result is an unconventional four-wheel-drive system. Controls are also very futuristic in the passenger cabin. Drivers can use hand gestures, a la the movie Minority Report, to control the audio system and ventilation.
Mazda RX-Vision Sports Car
Mazda is not to be overlooked in the style department. At the end of the Mazda press conference, Mazda’s CEO Masamichi Kogai introduced a rakish new RX-Vision sports car that signals Mazda’s return to high-end Wankel powered performance vehicles. The design is a complete scene-stealer, with an impossibly long front hood and short rear deck. It reminded many commentators of the Jaguar E type the early 1960s.
Under that long flowing hood is a next generation rotary engine, dubbed Skyactiv-R, which reportedly addresses the well-known traditional shortcomings of rotary engines: lackluster fuel economy, high pollution emissions and reliability issues. Mazda appears to have great confidence in its new technology engine and it appears that this sports car will go into production, perhaps targeted at a much higher price point than traditional Mazda cars (think Jaguar, Porsche or Corvette.)
Nissan and their Innovative IDS Concept
Now on to Japanese auto manufacturer Nissan, which has one of the most interesting management arrangements ever (aside from Elon Musk and his empire.) Nissan shares its CEO Carlos Ghosn with the French car company PSA Peugeot Citroen. Nissan brought down the house with their innovative IDS Concept, which drove itself autonomously onto the stage at the Big Sight exposition center. Drivers not wanted! The all-electric vehicle is a far cry from Nissan’s current electric offering, the Nissan Leaf, which suffers from nondescript styling and questionable driving range. Among the IDS concept car’s many features, the autonomous driving that is the most intriguing.
The steering wheel literally folds up and stows itself into the dashboard, leaving the driver at ease to take in the morning newspaper on a large computer tablet. Accompanying the IDS concept car was a small hatchback with a painfully hip name — Teatro for Dayz — targeted at the generation younger than today’s millennials. This show vehicle allows what Nissan calls “share natives” to post and share imagery that displays in the car and on its exterior surface.
Want to See Some Cars that are a Little Bit More Unique?
Many car aficionados from older generations complain about today’s car designs, calling them indistinguishable from a toaster. Yet, the breadbox form factor first popularized by the Volkswagen microbus may be making a revival. Suzuki presented its Air Triser concept car, which in many ways is reminiscent of the VW microbus show car, which unlike the revived Beetle, never made it into production.
Daihatsu also displayed a breadbox form factor transport vehicle, the Nori Ori, which features sliding doors that look remarkably like doors opening on a public city bus or a subway car on the metro. Interestingly, the Nori Ori has a built-in wheelchair ramp at the rear to provide accessible transportation.
The engineers and designers at Toyota took an opposite approach with their Kikai concept car. They took all the mechanical contents out of the box and turned them inside out– revealing all the car’s major components, including the suspension, exhaust, chassis and engine. The result is the unique vehicle reminiscent of a Ford Model T Coupe Hot Rod from the 1950s. Very fun indeed!
We recently talked about the Toyota Mirai having a publicity tie in with Back to the Future day. While the Mirai is futuristic on the inside (meaning its powerplant), it has fairly conventional styling that makes it frankly difficult to distinguish at a distance from Toyota’s family car line, the Camry. Well, if the FCV Plus concept car introduced at the Tokyo motor show is any indication for the future design trends for the Mirai, the future looks very futuristic indeed. The hydrogen powered FCV Plus looks like it is ready to take off vertically at any moment. It has the design language of a set piece from science-fiction television series. Beam me up Scotty!
We invite you to join the roster of satisfied Formaspace technical, manufacturing and laboratory furniture clients — including Apple Computer, Boeing, Dell, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobile, Ford, General Electric, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, NASA, Novartis, Stanford University, Toyota and more.
Give us a call today at 800.251.1505 to find out more about the Formaspace line of built-to-order computer workstations, industrial workbenches, laboratory furniture, lab benches and dry lab/wet labs — as well as our design / furniture consulting services. Like all Formaspace furniture, it’s backed by our famous 12 year, three shift guarantee.