thecarnut.typepad.com > 2007 TOKYO MOTOR SHOW PRESS DAY #1

ARRIVING AT TOKYO MOTOR SHOW, 2007

ARRIVING AT TOKYO MOTOR SHOW, 2007

Be sure to 'click' on the thumbnail photos to see them in their full-size, and with their complete captions!

That's me exiting the Keihin Makuhari train station, about a short (by Japanese standards) 1/2 mile or so walk from the entrance to the Tokyo Motor Show. I'm also pulling a case carrying our video gear; usually I was pulling along two or more cases, eash weighing-in at a minimum of 75 pounds or so each ... Made for some aching feet and hurting knees! Photo by Carey Parker.


Leaving the Train Station

Leaving the Train Station

All bags packed and accounted for, I trudge, pulling hefty weight (mine and the suitcase) towards the Makuhari Messe Convention Center for the 40th Tokyo Motor Show.


Tokyo Motor Show Entrance

Tokyo Motor Show Entrance

One of several entrances to the Tokyo Motor Show. The area was rather empty early morning of the first of two Press Days.


Tokyo Motor Show Press Entrance

Tokyo Motor Show Press Entrance

The little tent to the lower left was being used for on-site registration for the media. With our overseas advanced registration, we were able (after a few broken phrases in Japanese and English) to sort-of breeze through the entrance to the show.


Tokyo Motor Show Press Entrance

Tokyo Motor Show Press Entrance

A line of journalists atempting that-day, on-site registration had us confused, until, after standing in line for about 20 (now wasted) minutes, a friendly usher-type in a red jacket informed us that with our credentials we were pre-registered and we left the line, finally bound for the show itself.


Tokyo Motor Show Entrance

Tokyo Motor Show Entrance

The North entrance, one of several to the show, from a ground's-eye view. One thing in Japan is for certain, no matter where you are, where you've been, or where you're going: PLENTY OF WALKING! So bring the good walking shoes, the flats for you ladies ...


Tokyo Motor Show Press Entrance

Tokyo Motor Show Press Entrance

Journalists milling about waiting to apply for their credentials. Note that's me, standing next to the fashionable Japanese lady over on the right side of the photo ... Where'd you expect I'd be standing? I moved, quickly, once my wife snapped this shot ...


Journalists in Line

Journalists in Line

Thrilling, isn't it? Waiting in a line ... Just what we came some 6,000 miles to do! Actually, we headed into the show just a few moments after this shot was snapped, and my wife had noticed where I was standing ...


We're goin' in!

We're goin' in!

Note the sign to my right, reading "Adults, 1,300 Yen", working out to about $13.00 for adult entry to the Tokyo Motor Show.


Me and the wife ... Preparing for a LONG day ...

Me and the wife ... Preparing for a LONG day ...

We're still smiling at 10am ... Wait until you see us at the end of the day! Carey shoots all our video and many of the still photos (which I enjoy shooting), plus she has to lug the camera and varied pieces of equipment with her all day ... or until we finish-up shooting for the day. I pull an equipment case behind me, which is a lot easier than keeping that video camera on my shoulder for hours at a time, as she must!


In the show!

In the show!

We found out shortly after entering the show and viewing the Suzuki exhibit --- The fabled Tokyo show girls were still at work in this, the 40th show, and no matter how much you may ask them, they will NOT move aside after posing so shooters can get a 'clean' shot of the car, bike, truck ... whatever it might be!


Hey, who's the clown?

Hey, who's the clown?

Aisin, a big Japanese parts-maker, seemed to be everywhere, with their ads on TV and on big posters on buildings and in train stations and in the trains themselves on those small poster ads which are everywhere. I told Carey, "That's all for us ... All their advertising is for the foreigners who are here for the motor show". Their funky and fun exhibit at the show itself had me thinking I was right ...


Service With A Smile!

Service With A Smile!

This fellow was a busboy at the lunch provided to journalists in a Convention Center ballroom both Press Days. Information on the box lunches was sent to foreign journalists, like us, weeks before the show, with a color photo and a description for each box lunch offering; I chose the Japanese (And figured "Why not? How bad could it be in Japan?") and Carey picked the Italian box lunch, for some unknown reason. Anyway, both lunches we had were pretty good and the service, as always in Japan, was impeccable.


"Japanese" Box Lunch

"Japanese" Box Lunch

This was the Japanese box lunch given to journalists at the show's Press Days. Each and every one looked nearly-exactly the same, another "typically Japanese" part of their food culture. The meal you get in a restaurant, after pointing to a plastic model of it in their front window (a common occurrence), looks EXACTLY like the one in the window and always does ...


"Italian Box Lunch"

"Italian Box Lunch"

carey's Italian box lunch served at the motor show. Note the noddles to the lower left and the large piece of pita bread in the middle ... In Japan, That's Italian!


Luncheon Ballroom

Luncheon Ballroom

Serving lunch to the gathered journos from around the world in one large ballroom was a good idea for the motor show organizers ... It kept us animals away from the more refined locals while we ate, offending no one, at least publicly ... Remember that the Japanese word for 'foreigner', gaijin, literally means 'barbarian'.


Japanese toilet ... Someone had to show it!

Japanese toilet ... Someone had to show it!

No, this isn't the toilet facility on-board the Space Shuttle or in some prison facility. It is a Japanese toilet in the "handicapped" rest room (and we must say Japan's facilities of all types for the physically- and sight-challenged have improved tremendously over the years, and we've been going there since 1979). Note the electronic controls on the right side of the seat, where the user can choose from a variety of hot, warm or cold wet washes aimed at various body parts, cool or hot drying air blown into the seating area and the level of heat for the seat itself. In our new home, we will have ONLY these Japan-style toilets (which are available in the US, too)!


Peugeot 308 RC Z Concept Car

Peugeot 308 RC Z Concept Car

One of the "stars" of the Peugeot stand was this concept car, their "308 RC Z". The styling seems to borrow from some Audi models, especially the TT and their new R8, with that "drooping" backlight, from the top of the roof towards the back of the car. In fact, this was not the only car "borrowing" from Audi's styling studio. Peugeot's main emphasis on this car was "adding lightness", with heavier use of alumnium than Peugeot has ever tried before, throughout the machine. Called, again, the Peugeot 308 RC Z, it's a glimpse at what a 2+2 coupe built off an existing platform (used on the 307 model) could look like.

The front end styling is taken directly from the production car but has been given a sharper lower section, incorporating the single air intake, chrome front grille, and integral front fog lamps. The curved shape of the roof panel and rear window manages airflow over the rear of the vehicle, creating sufficient rear down force to eliminate the need for a rear spoiler.

The two centrally mounted rear exhaust pipes are integrated into the wraparound rear bumper lower panel. To achieve this, the rear exhaust silencer has been located in a transverse position where it also serves as an aerodynamic diffuser, but still allows sufficient space for the storage of a spare wheel in the trunk floor.

Inside, the fascia panel has been taken directly from the Peugeot 308 hatchback. Trimmed in leather, the use of chrome, aluminum, and black lacquer detailing creates a smart and sporty look.

At the rear there are two occasional folding leather seats, with enough space for a set of golf clubs when they're not in use. Peugeot designers claim you can also get an adult mountain bike in the back.

The Peugeot 308 RC Z is powered by a 1.6-liter, 218-hp turbocharged gasoline engine, mated to a six-speed gearbox. Maximum torque output of 207 lb-ft can be temporarily increased to 221 lb-ft with an overboost function. The car will hit 60 mph in seven seconds.


Peugeot Exhibit

Peugeot Exhibit

This Peugeot model, with sliding side doors, is in production and for sale in Europe and Japan. Those sliding doors are perfect for countries where narrow streets and even more narrow alleyways are common, and anything which saves precious room when driving, and especially when parking, is in heavy demand. Though it's a cool idea, it makes little sense for the US, at least outside of the most crowded urban centers in this country.


Peugeot 908 HDi Turbo-Diesel Endurance Racer

Peugeot 908 HDi Turbo-Diesel Endurance Racer

Not to be outdone by their competition at Audi, which has been sweeping the race tracks of the world with their 5.5 liter turbo-diesel endurance race car, Peugeot is stepping up to the challenge with theiur own version of a racing sports car which runs at about 2,000 rpm ... at most. Their 908 HDi is beginning to have its own success and is offering Audi the competition they need to keep the sport honest.


Peugeot 908 HDi Endurance Racer --- Rear Shot

Peugeot 908 HDi Endurance Racer --- Rear Shot

Nothing like a race car to attract the crowd's attention at any car show, no matter where it's being held. But the Japanese have developed something of a pure and true love of racing and the competition itself. This turbo-diesel race car from Peugeot, sporting some 700-or-so horsepower from a 5.5L turbo-diesel powerplant, and the kind of aerodynamics to stare at which only a engineer could love, drew plenty of interested members of the media at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show during its two Press Days, October 24th and 25th, 2007.


Peugeot 308 RC Z Concept Car, rear angle

Peugeot 308 RC Z Concept Car, rear angle

Rear deck of the concept from Peugeot more clearly shows its "borrowed" design tricks from Audi. This is a car which looks good from almost any angle, and the rear 3/4, such as this one, is a key angle which stylists can use to make their car look a lot "tougher" than it really is ... And this 308 passes the test.


Rolls-Royce at Tokyo

Rolls-Royce at Tokyo

They might not sell as many "Rollers" in Japan as the company did in the high-flying 1980s, but the mammoth vehicles still catch the attention of any red-blooded Japanese male (and money-blooded lady, to turn a phrase). The new Rolls, unfortuinately, is one of the ugliest cars since the junkers, uh, we mean "Rollers", which the company produced in the 1970s and '80s. The Japanese still have a real genuine fondness for, and perhaps jealousy of, all things European and American. Their acceptance of the new Rolls-Royce must be an example of those deep feelings, which developed when their Emperor took a globe-trotting in the early part of the 20th century and came home to Japan sporting all sorts of European and American clothes, products, and even cars (which is why the earliest Japanese cars look a lot like the UK's Morris models of the day ... The earliest cars built in Japan were assembled out of "KDK", kncok-down kits, imported from England to Japan).


Bentley Coupe at Tokyo

Bentley Coupe at Tokyo

The engineers at Volkswagen, which owns Bentley (and Lamborghini, whom we will get to in due time), have done such a better job styling their cars than their friends at BMW, which owns Rolls-Royce, that the differences have become very telling and obvious. This Bentley coupe doesn't have a bad line on it. The trouble, as a former Rolls-Royce PR man tells me, is that as nice as the cars are, the interiors feel Teutonic, a bit cold and hard, rather than exuding the sheer luxury of wool carpet and the world's best leathers (from cows raised on farms which have no barbed wire fencing, to keep holes out of the leather) which most people rightly expect from those two fabled names.


Lamborghini at Tokyo

Lamborghini at Tokyo

Lamborghini revealed their Reventon, a spectacular 650-hp V12-powered carbon fiber-bodied supercar in Frankfurt, but the crowds of journos at Tokyo didn't seem to mind --- After all, the Frankfurt show happened only six weeks beofre Tokyo!

Reventon, in spite of being the most expensive production Lamborghini ever, with a pre-tax price of around €1 million ($1.43 million U.S.), has already sold its entire planned production run of just 20 models.

Named in an old Lamborghini tradition, for a fighting bull, the Reventon’s body is constructed mainly in CFC carbon-fiber composite. And in a nice illustration of Lamborghini’s attention to detail, the fuel filler cap is machined from a solid aluminum block. So take THAT, Mr. Gas Station owner!

Reventon’s instruments use TFT liquid-crystal displays with multiple display modes; and at the center of the display, whatever the mode, it features a g-force meter that shows longitudinal acceleration, deceleration and lateral forces on a graduated 3D grid, which can be useful information in a car with a maximum speed of 340 kph (211 mph) and 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 3.4 seconds. And after all, if you don't know how man g's you're pulling while driving down the block to pick up some milk, what is life all about, anyway?


Lambo Still Draws Crowds

Lambo Still Draws Crowds

We used this photo in the album to give you an idea of the crowds of reporters and photographers working the Lamborghini stand. This is one car which must be seen in person to be appreciated; seeing all that carbon fiber on a street car, and knowing the kind of horsepower which awaits the driver, this is one case where, truly, only seeing is believing.


Lambo Reventon, rear view

Lambo Reventon, rear view

Looking every bit the race car, Lambo's new Reventon is priced at 1 million Euros, about $1.45 million is US dollars these days ... As the dollar continues its fall, a few potential buyers in the US might actually be priced out of the market! Imagine that ... shocking, isn't it? What are our wealthy to do if they can't own this particular piece of motorized Viagara?


Excitement at the VW Stand!

Excitement at the VW Stand!

Took this shot on the first of two Press Days at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. Clearly, this poor guy had already had enough of the show. The show had been open only a few hours, but what with jet lag and international travel factored into the equation, the show seemed bigger and even more incomprehensible at times than ever before. This was the first time in a decade that cars, light trucks, motorcycles, big trucks and large buses had been exhibited in one show, and it absolutely tired-out more than a few people. We got to Japan almost a week before the show and spent some time 75-or-so miles south of Tokyo at a Buddhist temple at the foot of Mt. Fuji, so we entered the show itself in fairly normal shape ...


Lamborghini Murcielago

Lamborghini Murcielago

Lambo's "regular" production cars drew a crowd, too, at Tokyo. The Reventon (all carbon fiber, 1 million Euros each, just 20 to be made) was placed between this "stock" and more familiar Murcielago and another Lambo, this one a droptop version of their basic car. Volkswagen owns Lambo, Bentley and has a piece of Audi, and all four of those exhibits were right next to each other at Tokyo.


Tokyo Shooters

Tokyo Shooters

A little shaky (sorry), but this shot makes the point that with cameras a part of even the most basic cell phones, and even high-quality digital cameras being small enough to be hand-held, just about everyone these days plays "professional photog" whether they have been shooting photos for decades or just bought their cell phone at a train station kiosk on their way to the show. It made for some funny acrobatics, as, in truth, everyone tried to politely stay out of everyone else's way when one of the parties was shooting a photo ... These days, a famous photographer might be using a hand-held digital model or a cell phone camera to achieve a certain "look" they want to achieve, so the best bet is for everyone to stay out of everyone else's way!


Toyota FT-MV Concept

Toyota FT-MV Concept

Toyota calls this exercise the "appearance of the next generation of luxury minivan". By the time the show was over, it was no state secret that the next gas/electric hybrid to come to the US from Toyota might quite possibly be a station wagon version of their popular (and unusual-looking) Prius. This vehicle was displayed by Toyota at the show, probably ready to be sold as the next-generation (another 4 to 5 years) of their super-popular "Estima" home market (Japan-only) minivan. It's a gasoline/electric hybrid, and looked more-then-ready for production, with some moderate "concept car-look" changes. Many viewers, including this one, thought it too boxy for the US market. Toyota wrote in their press kit that, "Toyota aims to showcase the pursuit of the essential emotional appeal of cars - being fun to drive and a pleasure to use". We'll buy that, put in standard and oh-so-typical Japanese hyperbole as it is, but we don't think that with these looks, this Estima will soon replace the Sienna in the US.


Toyota Crown Hybrid Concept

Toyota Crown Hybrid Concept

This is the latest version of Toyota's popular Crown, just about the largest passenger car in their home-market line-up. Spectators could be forgiven for thinking they were visiting the Buick exhibit when examining the very conservative and staid Crown. While the Japanese market will see this version, design-wise, of the Crown, no announcement was made as to when the gas/electric hybrid powerplant in this concept might make it to the streets, but we'd guess pretty soon.


Lexus LF-A

Lexus LF-A

The car has been shown in various iterations before, but Toyota/Lexus people at the show told us that this is quite close to the final product for what they still bill as their NSX-fighter. Note the use of the letter "F" in the name, the new Lexus designation for their high-performance cars and parts.


Lexus LF-A rear view

Lexus LF-A rear view

No word on whether those unusual tailpipes will make it onto the production LF-A, if and when it hits the highways, but this Lexus "supercar" drew a tremendous amount of attention at the show.


Lexus LF-A high rear view

Lexus LF-A high rear view

Another rear view of the LF-A, the "supercar" from Toyota's Lexus division. The name and "Lexus" and its high-end luxury positioning was introduced to the Japanese market only two years ago, in conjunction with that year's Tokyo Motor Show.


Lexus LF-A front 3/4 view

Lexus LF-A front 3/4 view

The many air intakes on the car appear to be functional, or they will be if and when it ever goes into actual production. The sporting coupe will set another level of performance and probably pricing for all Japanese cars ... The Lexus LS600L h gas/electric hybrid sedan already on-sale in the US prices out somewhere north of $124,000. That car was also on display at the Lexus exhibit, which was next door to parent-company Toyota's huge exhibition, and drew only a modest amount of interest ... We think the price turned off a lot of viewers.


Lexus LF-A front view

Lexus LF-A front view

Looking every bit the futuristic high-performance vehicle Toyota wants it to appear, this LF-A "concept" uses LED (light emitting diode) lamps front and rear, and twists and turns in its body which are very hard to achieve whether using standard sheetmetal, aluminum or even carbon fiber.


Lexus LF-A front 3/4 shot

Lexus LF-A front 3/4 shot

The Toyota/Lexus executive we interviewed, Haruhiko Tanahashi, Chief Engineer of the Lexus Product Development Center and, thus, in charge of the LF-A's development, refused to say anything to us about the possibilities of the LF-A going into production anytime soon. But just a few minutes after speaking with him, we spoke with Yukihiko Yaguchi, Project Manager of Product Planning for the Lexus Product Development Group, and in charge of the IS-F project. While talking to him about the IS-F, already on-sale in the US and introduced to Japan at the show, we asked him which Lexus production vehicle would be next to get the "F treatment". Without missing a beat, he told us, "LF-A". You never know what you'll find out when asking questions of the "right" company execs ...


Lexus RX concept; aka LF-Xh

Lexus RX concept; aka LF-Xh

Sitting and spinning on a turntable, Lexus said this concept was a look at the next-generation RX, which is already available in the US as a gas/electric hybrid. It looked to us like a late-model RX put on top of a Bunsen burner and which had begun to melt ... This concept gives a look at the possibilities of fitting some F-performance parts on the vehicle and outfitting the undercarriage with a gas/electric hybrid powerplant.


RX Concept From Lexus

RX Concept From Lexus

The Lexus version of the more pedestrian Toyota Highlander, the RX has been Lexus' bread-and-butter vehicle, at least in the US. After a few years of look-alike models, it appears that, for Lexus, their next-generation RX might be a bit of a departure for the company, styling-wise, judging by the RX concept at the Tokyo show. But Lexus knows their buyers as well as any company in the world, and one thing they know for certain about their customers: They don't like change.


RX Concept From Lexus

RX Concept From Lexus

Straight-on, front-end view of the RX concept shown by Lexus. While the use of LEDs (light emitting diodes) allows for more creative designs for those stylists working on the front end, it seems that Lexus engineers still need some more experience with those LEDs and the options they offer designers.


Lexus' "Tough-Looking" RX Concept

Lexus' "Tough-Looking" RX Concept

Sometimes, when appropriate, and they are trying to achieve a certain muscular look, Japanese stylists like to say that their designs make a vehicle look "mighty". While we agree that what they've done with this next-generation RX concept indeed adds that bit of "muscle" to the crossover, we also must ask: Why? We think Dodge's Magnum station wagon has the "look" which the Lexus engineers were shooting for ... In a crossover like this RX, the styling makes the car look more like the box the Magnum comes in than anything Americans would want to buy ...


Lexus IS-F

Lexus IS-F

The Japanese were introduced to the Lexus IS-F, and the "F" high-performance bits and pieces, at the Tokyo Motor Show. Of course the car has already appeared on the cover of this year's Neiman-Marcus Holiday Catalogue, so America beat the Japan home market with this model, something which doesn't happen too often.


Lexus IS-F Rear View

Lexus IS-F Rear View

Note those wild "two times twice pipes", as friends of mine in Santa Ana High School would have called them, some 35 years ago. IS-F hits all the right notes for the Japanese home market and for Lexus; not too wild, not too tame, but just right (Lexus salespeople in Japan and the US hope).


Lexus IS-F

Lexus IS-F

IS-F specific wheels, tires and larger disc brakes can be seen in this shot of the car on its stand at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. The car attracted a lot of attention in performance and appearance parts-crazy Japan.


Toyota "i-Real" One-Person Vehicle

Toyota "i-Real" One-Person Vehicle

Toyota says their "i-Real" is a "personal mobility vehicle made closely in human scale as a step toward commercialization in the near future". Does this mean the i-Real, or a vehicle somewhat like it, will go into actual mass-production sometime soon? In the photo, the designer of this little get-about instructs a Japanese TV reporter on its operation. Many Japanese car-makers showed "1-person" vehicles similar to this, the "i-Real", at the Toyota exhibit. More than anything, these "vehicles" point towards a future Japan with a large number of elderly who may find it difficult to not only get around town, but also to drive a conventional car. These concepts appeal to the Japanese, where the over-65 age group is the fastest-growing in the nation, and the birth rate is actually in negative numbers. In fact, those Japanese over 65 are in a group which is larger than almost all other age groups combined. Simple, easy-to-operate and safe in-town transit is critically important to Japan's future due to the huge number of elderly, a group which continues to grow.


Lexus Hybrid Drive Animated Exhibit

Lexus Hybrid Drive Animated Exhibit

Carey gets a video shot of the Lexus Hybrid-Drive animated exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show for our "Car Nut TV" program. Hybrid-drive vehicles are no longer any kind of novelty to the Japanese; they are becoming the norm, and that nation's car-makers are expected to offer gas/electric hybrids in all classes of consumer vehicles, cars and vans.


Lexus Hybrid Drive Exhibit

Lexus Hybrid Drive Exhibit

A view of the Lexus display highlighting their gasoline enigne/electric motor hybrid-drive system.


Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Concept

Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Concept

Toyota says that, "As the sports car of the new generation, the FT-HS does not compromise in its aim of offering driving excitement and being environmentally considerate". Front-wheel detail of Toyota's eye-catching FT-HS hybrid sports car concept. Are we looking at the next-generation Supra?


FT-HS Toyota Hybrid Concept

FT-HS Toyota Hybrid Concept

This head-turning FT-HS hybrid concept from Toyota was, we learned at the show, the topic of much heated "nemowashi" (discussion until a consesus is reached, a very Japanese concept) between Lexus and Toyota factory factions. Each wanted the car on their own display stand. The final smi-Solomonic decision was to put the car in the Toyota display, but only about ten feet from the Lexus LF-A concept, so the FT-HS really appeared to be kind of "floating" between the Lexus and Toyota exhibitions. Is everyone happy? Truth be told, no, if you asked the Lexus folks.


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