Japan Mobility Expo demonstrates the importance of convenience in a sluggish market

Japan Mobility Expo demonstrates the importance of convenience in a sluggish market

The Japan Mobility Show, formerly known as the Tokyo Motor Show, opened its doors to the public on Thursday, October 26, and continues until Sunday, November 5.

For those of us who attended the Tokyo Motor Show during the glory years of the late 1980s and early 1990s when attendance approached and exceeded 2 million people, it is difficult to discern the goal of the show organizers.

Is it to attract interest in cars among Japan’s youth, and thus help reverse a sales decline that fell to its lowest level in nearly 50 years last year? Or is it to highlight the Japanese industry’s powertrain technology at a time when automakers around the world are rapidly shifting to battery-powered electric vehicles? Japan lags behind with only 2% of fully electric vehicle sales.

Or do organizers really believe that bringing together multiple industries – nearly 500 participants including startups – would revitalize a domestic industry that, with the exception of Toyota and Suzuki, has been struggling?

The main focus of concept cars this year is on battery electric vehicles with every automaker unveiling at least one model. Again, this isn’t the first time Japanese automakers have showcased battery-powered concepts. In 2007, the show focused on alternative propulsion, mostly electric and hybrid vehicles.

Four years ago, before the pandemic, we spoke to Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko about the state of the Japanese auto market, specifically about why there are so few interesting cars. Masuku, who died the following summer, was surprisingly frank.

He said: “Cars are no longer a source of dreams.” “When I started this business, the car helped define you as a person. It is no longer necessary. Your phone is the ‘identifier’, not your car for many people, especially people who live in cities and the elderly.

“Japan’s population is declining and aging (nearly 30% are over 65 years old and 10% over 80 years old),” Masuko added. As a result, demand for cars is expected to decline.”

Roger Schreffler

Although this year’s show has a record number of participants, it features just 12 automakers, including just two from Europe and one from China. (BYD stamp pictured above) Nothing from North America. The show is very much a Japanese affair.

From Japanese brands:

  • Nissan is unveiling a range of futuristic cars that come straight from Japan’s anime culture. They include Hyper Force, a future version of the GT-R, Hyper Punk, and Hyper Tourer. It doesn’t look like any of these things will ever go into production.
  • In contrast, Toyota and Lexus Div. Preparing to move to BEVs. Toyota offers the FT-Se sports car and the Land Cruiser Se concept. The automaker is also showcasing an electric pickup truck, the EPU.
  • Lexus is showing off the LF-ZC, which is scheduled for production in 2026 and is said to aim for a range of up to 625 miles (1,000 km). Earlier this year, the automaker announced plans to produce 3.5 million fully electric vehicles in 2030, about 30 models in total.
  • Mazda SP sports car (pictured below) Equipped with a dual-cycle EV system.
  • Mazda SP Sports Car Concept - Japanese Mobility Show 23.jpeg
  • Honda’s main concepts are the Prelude Concept, an electric sports car and the Sustaina-C, a lightweight electric hatchback whose body panels are made primarily of acrylic resin.
  • Honda has confirmed that it has ended its plans to jointly develop affordable electric vehicles with General Motors.
  • The Mitsubishi D:X Concept, an electrified crossover SUV, includes a hybrid powertrain. Earlier last week, the automaker announced plans to invest €200 million ($212 million) in Renault’s Ampere project and will work with the French automaker to develop a BEV for the European market. Nissan is investing 600 million euros ($637 million) in Ampere.
  • Meanwhile, Suzuki is showing two electric models, both of which are close to production. The automaker plans to introduce the EVX in 2025 in Europe, India and Japan. The model will offer a range of up to 500 kilometers (312 miles). EWX is developed for the Japanese market. No timeframe was given for submission.
  • Subaru’s flagship concept car, the Subaru Sport Mobility, is a futuristic electric vehicle featuring the automaker’s all-wheel drive technology.
  • Daihatsu is offering four small BEVs including the Osanpo (pictured below)outdoor two-seater.Daihatsu Osanbo.jpg

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