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Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011
Green is the big thing at this year's Tokyo Motor Show
Makers hope to spark renewed interest in cars
Japanese carmakers highlighted their latest green technology concept cars during Wednesday's media preview at the Tokyo Motor Show as they bid to lead the global trend toward energy efficiency and reignite interest among young people in automobiles.
Previously held in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture, it is the first motor show in Tokyo in 24 years, and an attempt to steal the spotlight from rival motor shows in Beijing, Shanghai and New Delhi, where car markets are booming.
On display with the new electric vehicles and sports cars were the major carmakers' visions of the future.
"The time when an automaker could focus only on the vehicle is over," Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn told reporters. "Our long-term vision for a clean, connected, mobile society demands the development of both vehicles and infrastructure."
Aside from its ultracompact electric PIVO 3, Nissan also unveiled a smart house that draws power from solar panels as well as the batteries of its LEAF electric vehicle.
Honda Motor Co. President Takanobu Ito emphasized the importance of tying the excitement of mobility to environmental consciousness. "In order to realize a sustainable society where people can enjoy life, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions will be one of the most important challenges," he said.
Honda, which debuted its EV-STER electric sports car, is setting a 30 percent reduction target for carbon emissions from its motorcycles, automobiles and other products sold around the world by 2020, compared with 2000 levels, Ito said.
Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda said the future lies not with only one type of green technology.
"There will be more than one option among cars of the future," Toyoda said. The firm showed a wide range of energy-efficient cars, from its new Prius plug-in hybrid to the electric FT-EV III, and fuel-cell FCV-R and Fun-Vii.
Responding to the loss of interest among young people in cars, Toyoda said: "We will create cars that many people can feel (in harmony) with. This is Toyota's declaration of determination."
The Tokyo Motor Show will be open to the public from this weekend till Dec. 11. In all, 21 foreign and 14 domestic companies will show a total of 53 vehicles for the first time, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Sticking with Tohoku
Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda pledged Wednesday that the automaker will keep manufacturing in the Tohoku region and Thailand even after its operations in both areas were affected significantly by devastating natural disasters this year.
"We have asked ourselves what Toyota can do after facing the Great East Japan Earthquake and massive flooding in Thailand," Toyoda told a briefing at the media preview of the Tokyo Motor Show.
"The conclusion that I have reached is to create a future with people in the regions through manufacturing," Toyoda said. "We will never withdraw from Tohoku or Thailand."
Like other Japanese automakers, Toyota was forced to suspend and reduce output due to the March 11 disaster before normalizing production in September.
Its manufacturing in Thailand is still being affected by the massive flooding in Thailand in October.