The three Japanese carmakers had concepts aplenty, but only one or two with real relevance to Singapore
The 2019 Tokyo Motorshow saw Toyota with its new-spin as a mobility company, rather than one that sells cars. Lexus has its LF-30 concept that previews solid-state batteries that might make lithium-ion tech go the way of the horse, Honda showed off its all-new Jazz, and Mazda its very first EV, which is to be only the second Japanese EV to be truly sold around the world.
On the other hand, things were a little more subdued with Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Suzuki having plenty of show-cars to show for, but with less relevance to Singapore.
Nissan Ariya Concept
Mazda may have taken the lead with its electric SUV the MX-30, but as expected, Nissan isn’t far behind. This car here, the Ariya, is a concept version of a BEV SUV that will enter production in the near future – although no concrete timeline has been given. Looking at the low roofline and now commonly seen coupe-SUV style, the Ariya could eventually be a dead-on competitor to the Mazda. The huge wheels and massive sweeping ‘shield’ grille are obviously show-only elements, but Nissan says the Ariya points the way forward for Nissan design.
Its design chief Alfonso Albaisa explains one key point, the grille: We replaced the conventional grille with what we call a ‘shield’ – an expressive piece with innovative 3-D texture within that goes beyond cosmetics, but also as a way to highlight the technology lurking within the vehicle,” said Albaisa. “In this case, it’s a radar sensor and other technologies that help the Ariya Concept read the road and visualize things the driver can’t see.”
Nissan IMK Concept
On the other end of the spectrum is the IMK concept, which is Nissan’s vision of a small, BEV city car – the Ariya and IMK are, Nissan says, bookends to the design direction of the next-gen of its cars. It uses the term city car, rather than kei car, so we can expect styling features seen here to end up on its smaller global models, such as the Nissan Note. “The Ariya Concept and IMk are the latest design icons of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. They are bookends that showcase the broad spectrum of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility landscape, from the urban commuter to the family-size crossover SUV,” says Nissan’s executive design director, Satoru Tai.
Mitsubishi Mi Tech Concept
Mitsubishi’s concept buggy certainly looks wild, but it’s what drives its wheels that will be most relevant to consumers. Unlike the Engleberg concept, which previews the look of the next Outlander due in 2021 onwards, the Mi Tech is an example of how Mitsubishi will move into a range-extender powered series hybrid system to replace its current plug-in hybrid system used in the Outlander PHEV model. The multi-fuel generator will power an electric all-wheel drive system, and is intended for smaller crossover models. Mitsubishi has said it will differentiate its models by a larger degree in future, the Eclipse Cross and ASX, for instance, are of similar size, with the latter expected to become a compact model, but it’s clear that all of its cars will see increased electrification.
Suzuki Waku SPO & Hanare Concept
Here’s something a little more far-fetched from Suzuki, but nonetheless intriguing.
The Waku SPO Concept can change its shape and morph from a coupe into a small wagon. A compact car aimed at family use, the car will use a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain.
In practical ‘could we buy it eventually’ terms though, we don’t see how a car like this would be possible without a switchable roof section, and Suzuki hasn’t an international hybrid system on sale, let alone a PHEV one.
The other concept it showed, the Hanare, is a configurable autonomous pod-style vehicle, was even more far-fetched, and the most production-likely car was an beefier, off-road Hustler concept, which will only be sold in Japan.
Cool – but not for you (Singaporean buyers).