The 2015 Tokyo Motor Show

COUNTER F LOW - James Deakin - The Philippine Star

There was a time when the Tokyo Motor Show was considered the automotive industry’s equivalent of an Apple keynote. Basically, almost anything worthy of being launched held its breath until October of every other year for a chance to shine on a stage that only aimed its lights on the biggest, brightest stars. This, was not one of those times.

But having said that, while the show may have lost size and some international attention, it hasn’t lost focus. In fact, some could argue that without the added noise, it has become even more focused, allowing manufacturers to work within even more relevant themes and coming up with even more real-world solutions rather than just out-of-this-world concepts.

Yes we missed the excitement of the previous years, but Tokyo has evolved into becoming the conscience of the automotive industry; a think tank that is capable of forging the future of responsible motoring, without necessarily enslaving itself to popular opinion. Already, there have been collaborations between the top 6 Japanese manufacturers, all working to deliver an autonomous driving program by 2020, to get one step closer to the goal of zero traffic fatalities.

Then there are the hybrids, EVs, and other alternative energy vehicles and other transport solutions, like the Toyota I-Road three wheeler urban commuter that was absolutely funtastic.

Personally, while many complained of a lack of excitement, I found the Tokyo Motor Show a sobering and timely reminder of the state of the automotive industry. And one that started answering more questions instead of just continuing to raise them. There was less: what-do-you-think-of-this? And more: here’s-what-we’ve-come-up-with.

Take the Fuel Cell Vehicle of Toyota. Here’s a concept that has picked up from the Mirai, which is already a commercially available, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle, and extended that to allow all that clean power to be returned to the grid and power your home.

To give us an even deeper understanding of the concept, Toyota us a chance to drive the Mirai on the Fuji International Speedway, and I must say—cost permitting—this is the future of motoring as far as I’m concerned.

Not only is it the cleanest form of energy, it so happens to be quite remarkable in its power delivery. It is eerily quiet, devoid of the electric whine that we’ve become used to in EVs, and emits nothing but good vibes. And with the development of the prototype displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show that allows this energy to be returned to the grid, this is not only a breakthrough for the automotive industry, but for the energy industry in general.

Already, these vehicles are driving around cities like Hamburg and are paving the way for affordable, renewable and completely sustainable energy sources for vehicles. With enough government support (don’t hold your breath over here) this could very well be the solution to what has become one of the biggest man-made problems in history.

Now I’ll admit, there’s absolutely nothing sexy about it—It’s tofu when the industry is still offering red meat—but as far as solutions go, it is far sexier than a hole in the ozone layer. But nobody wants to be big bad bouncer at the party. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with the Tokyo Motor Show; it is offering you the hangover cure when half the party is still drinking.












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