Flying cars, wacky concepts and mad inventions were in plentiful supply at this year’s Tokyo Mobility Show 2023.
The event, held at the Tokyo Big Sight events centre, opened its doors to the world’s press today (October 25) and Car Dealer was there to soak it up.
The Tokyo show is famous for its crazy concepts and bonkers ideas – and this year’s show did not disappoint.
Flying cars seemed to be high on the agenda with no less than three different designs on display throughout the show – including one drone-like model from Japanese car maker Subaru.
The Subaru Air Mobility Concept, which uses five electric turbines, towered over the car manufacturer’s stand and pointed to a ‘Subaru of the future’.
The car maker currently builds helicopters under contract for Bell and said its aerospace and automotive engineers are already working on the flying car concept.
It wasn’t the only ‘flying mobility solution’ on display. Elsewhere, the Skydrive, a quad-rotor prototype, was shown off on its own stand.
Skydrive said its model, which currently has a range of around 15km, is already on sale for around $1.5m and the first deliveries are expected in 2026.
That will give governments around the world time to work out the legislation required to licence these new forms of transport.
Suzuki invested in the start-up last year and the pair have produced a different design (pictured below) which they are hoping to get in the air soon too.
‘We expect our flying car to be used for commuting, but it’s yet known whether those who pilot it will need a helicopter licence or similar – that sort of detail needs to be decided by local governments,’ admitted Skydrive’s Yoshiyuki Kobayashi to Car Dealer.
‘Japan is considering it now. It will be a great way to avoid traffic jams in cities.’
Kobayashi said they had already taken orders and expects the flying car to be fully autonomous by 2035.
Aside from the flying cars, elsewhere other firms were showing off equally wacky concepts.
IAT T Mad
This Tesla Cybertruck-rivalling pick-up has five seats that swivel around to create a ‘communication space’ for the driver and passengers. The huge concept truck has a 200kph top speed and a range of 600km.
Chinese engineering firm IAT says owners will also be able to plug in an additional battery pack to boost this further to an 800km range.
The LSR-05 is made by a Japanese tier one parts supplier and has motors in the rear wheels and active suspension. It has a 200kwh battery and a theoretical range of 1,000kms.
But the real clever bit is the wireless charging capability that works with charging panels in the road to deliver the same amount of power as its using while driving along.
THK says 1km of this wireless charging road has already been installed for testing in Germany and they say they’re having ‘discussions’ about implementing it in the UK too.
‘The car has an effective infinite EV range as all the power it uses to drive along is replenished while driving over these wireless charging roads,’ said a spokesperson.
Named after the famous mathematician and scientist, Alan Turing, the Turing Alpha aims to ‘overtake Tesla’ with its autonomous driving sports car.
General manager of the start up, Yugo Tokuchi, explained the car uses Chat GPT-style AI to help give the car a ‘human like brain’ that will give it fully autonomous driving capability by 2030.
The Japanese firm was started by engineers with AI backgrounds and uses a machine learning tool to help it drive ‘like humans’ on the road.
‘Using AI we can teach the car to make decisions like humans would,’ explained Tokuchi.
‘We have undertaken 10,000 kms of testing so far and by the time we have covered 50,000 we believe it will be powerful enough to deploy.’
This wacky mobility concept is designed to assist people around shopping centres and airports. Honda believes people will hire them to avoid walking.
It uses gyros and electric motors to transport users around and is controlled by sensing body posture movements. You simply lean forward to get it to move.
‘You don’t drive it, you walk it,’ Honda’s chief frontier robotics engineer, Macoto Hasegawa, told Car Dealer.
Toyota Gusei Felsby Concept
This K-car sized concept is made by a division of manufacturing giant Toyota and aims to showcase the modular steering system that gives the interior more space.
However, of more note is the umbrella-style solar panel (pictured) that unfolds from the roof to help recharge the car.
While, at present, it creates just enough power to charge an occupant’s electronics, it is hoped that in the future it will enable EV owners to pop it up when they park to trickle charge into the battery too.
It uses flexible solar cells that can be folded down easily and can be fashioned into any shape the manufacturer wants.
AIM EV Micro 01
This tiny car is designed for a new category of cars in its home Japanese market, somewhere between a motorcycle and a Japanese K-car.
It has a 60kph top speed and a range of around 120km. A rival to Citroen’s AMI, it’s made by a Japanese engineering firm that showed off its EV Sport 01 at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. That car uses the same motor found in electric London buses.
This new small model uses a mobile phone for navigation and is designed for younger drivers and the rental market in cities. It will cost around £5,500 if the firm ever finds a company to partner with for production…
Away from the mobility halls of the future, the traditional car manufacturers were also busy showing off their ideas for the years ahead – and there was just as much madness.
Nissan Hyper Force concept
This is Nissan’s take on the GT-R of the future – a 1,341bhp solid state monster that’s said to offer ‘the ultimate driving pleasure’.
Up until now it wasn’t clear if the GT-R would remain a part of the Japanese giant’s future, but it now looks like it might just be.
It has four wheel drive and those solid state batteries mean it will be quicker to charge and, importantly, lighter.
Up until the Nissan was unveiled, Toyota had all but stolen the show with the FT-Se sports EV concept.
It’s the first electric car from the GR sub brand and is said by many to be a spiritual successor to the MR2.
There were scant details about the car given in Tokyo, but my word it looked incredible and it’s due to appear around 2027.
Mazda Iconic SP
This is as close as you’re going to get to an electric MX-5… for now. The Iconic SP is a rotary electric sports car with 370bhp.
It uses what is believed to be a new incarnation of the electric-rotary system currently found in the MX-30 R-EV crossover. The rotary petrol engine is used as a generator for the electric motor and batteries, rather than driving the wheels.
Mazda won’t say what will happen next to the powertrain for the MX-5, but if this is anything to go by there are some big changes ahead.
They might not sell Daihatsu models in the UK any more, but that doesn’t mean we don’t desperately want an Osanpo.
It’s an electric car concept that formed one of four cool little K-car models from the Japanese firm at the show. Think of it as a chunky Copen and you won’t be far off the mark.
This three wheeler trike might look like a Batmobile but Yamaha is convinced its back-to-basics thrills will delight drivers. Like most concepts at the show, it’s an EV, but this one has a rear-wheel-steering system.
BMW X2 & iX2
On the more ‘normal’ car front, German car brand BMW took the wraps off its new X2 and the electric iX2.
Debuting new looks and designed to appeal to younger car buyers, BMW says the car will be an important conquest vehicle for its dealer network.
The iX2 will have a 279-mile range and optional illuminated kidney grille LED lights to make it stand out from the crowd. The iX2 has dual-motors, four-wheel-drive and makes 309bhp. It can hit 60mph in 5.4sec.
Lexus had two concept cars on its stand – the LF-ZC, or Lexus Future Zero-emission Catalyst (above), and the LF-ZL – or Lexus Future Zero-emission Luxury.
The ZC has all wheel drive and a completely digital cockpit. Two digital pads let the driver quickly change settings, like on-board assistance systems, while on the right pad the driver can change music and climate control functions.
The LF-ZL is said to make the most of the extra space that a battery-powered platform brings, with a ‘spacious and serene’ cabin offering occupants ‘a place to relax’.
Sensors work with on board systems to let driver and passengers understand what they’re seeing around them. For example, a driver might point to a place of interest and the on-board system can automatically give them some key details about it.
Pictures: James Baggott/Blackball Media