The Tokyo Motor Show's reputation for producing the nuttiest concept vehicles is well-deserved, as demonstrated by this year's array of truly insane hardware.
This automotive confection was topped by a cherry red beauty from Mazda that's a lady in the streets and a freak in the stat sheets. That's where it shows off Mazda's revived rotary engine, an internal combustion position no other carmaker will even attempt for fear of injury. The Mazda RX-Vision's Skyactiv-R engine demonstrates that the zoom-zoom company intends to try to bring its signature spinning-rotor powerplant back to market, despite the design's fuel consumption and pollution challenges. Prepare to get revved up.
Dr. Who's phone booth seemed to inspire the bizarre Honda Wander Stand Concept. Which we'd happily explain, if only we could. Honda says the thing is autonomous and moves by the power of its Omni Traction Drive System. Which must be Japanese for "magic."
Maybe the Wander Stand's real purpose was to make the Clarity Fuel Cell car look mainstream by comparison. Honda's latest fuel cell vehicle is a real product, going on sale in Japan in March, then arriving in the U.S. and Europe later.
It has a driving range of 435 miles, which is the primary advantage of fuel cell electric cars over battery electrics, along with a faster refueling time. A notable feature is the available Power Exporter 9000, which lets Clarity drivers plug their house into the car, using it as a hydrogen-fueled back-up generator. Sign us up.
The Lexus LF-FC concept simultaneously previews the company's next-generation LS sedan's styling, while also hint at the potential for Toyota's fuel cell technology used in today's Mirai to move upmarket to luxury models.
Though it was mostly Japanese manufacturers flexing their weird muscles in Tokyo, Mercedes didn't want to be left out, so it brought the Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo concept. It is the company's notion of Generation Z's desire: a five-passenger autonomous fuel cell-powered party lounge rolling on huge 26-inch wheels.
Nissan showed off a variety of cool concepts, but the autonomous IDS Concept is the most awesomely unorthodox.
A unique aspect of the IDS's autonomous driving system is that not only is it optional, so you can drive th car yourself, but when you leave piloting to the computer, it attempts to emulate your own driving style. The intent here is to put people at ease, but it will probably instead elicit the kind of surprise people suffer when their kids curse like they do.
Speaking of surprises, how about a four-wheeled motorcycle? Not really, but one famed bike-builder showed up with a McLaren-esque carbon fiber sports car, the YamahaSports Ride concept. The company said the concept's purpose is to highlight the flexibility of the carbon fiber iStream chassis from its planned mini commuter car. BMW should do the same thing with its i3 commuter.