TOYOTA “WOWS” at the TOKYO MOTOR SHOW
The 61st Tokyo Motor Show recently wrapped up on Sunday, November 8 in Japan. Toyota, a brand known for reliable, well-built vehicles, presented a vision for the future of mobility with a couple of daring new concept cars. Yes, Toyota’s new mission is to bring fun and excitement to all the communities in which you find their cars. However, it also means viewing the vehicle as much more than simply transportation, but a commitment to exploring its fundamental appeal [craftsmanship, motion] and how it fits into future society as a whole. Two intriguing concepts in particular – the FCV Plus and the KIKAI – delivered this message in truly whimsical, one-of-a-kind fashion.
Craig Nazare, General Manager of Bolton Toyota Scion is excited about where Toyota is headed. “We understand that Canadian customers will get to experience Toyota’s engineering and environmental vision in practical ways, in form of the new Yaris and the all-new Prius, for example. That being said, every Toyota Scion driver can take additional pride in knowing these concepts mean the company is pushing the boundaries of what a car means, not just to individual drivers, but to communities as a whole.”
FCV Plus Concept
No discussion of the new FCV Concept is complete without first understanding how this funky white and aqua machine fits into Toyota’s view of the evolving role of the automobile in society. Company leaders envision a sustainable society in which hydrogen energy is in widespread use. Hydrogen has, after all, a higher energy density than electricity, is generated from a wide range of raw materials and is easy to store. It’s a very promising future energy source.
So imagine a world where clean generation of hydrogen from a wide range of primary energy sources makes local, self-sufficient power generation a global reality. Fuel cell vehicles – like the FCV – will be much more than, well…just cars. Toyota sees them taking on a new role as power sources within their communities.
In addition to the vehicle’s own hydrogen tank, the FCV concept also generates electricity directly from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle. The vehicle can thus be transformed into a stable source of electric power for use at home or away. When the car is not being used as a means of transport, the vehicle can share its power generation capabilities with communities as part of the local infrastructure.
There’s plenty of “wow” factor in that thinking, but what about the design? By concentrating functional parts at the front and the rear of the vehicle, this next-generation fuel cell vehicle package creates an optimal weight balance and a wide field of vision.
A fuel cell stack is mounted between the front tires and the hydrogen tank is located behind the rear seat. Together with the adoption of independent in-wheel motors in all four wheels, allows for a spacious cabin despite the vehicle’s compact vehicle body. The exterior adopts a distinctive, sleek shape, while the frame structure of the interior ensures rigidity despite the lighter weight of the car.
As Akio Toyoda, the 59-year old CEO of Toyota said in his Tokyo Motor Show speech, “Each represents an effort … to give form to our concept of ‘wow.’ ” Toyota Canada vice-president Stephen Beatty was a touch more direct. “From heavy-duty off-roaders to sports cars, all things that say, ‘Man, that could be fun. We’re trying to identify with the consumer by discovering what their ‘wow’ is.”
KIKAI Concept While the FCV represents an ever-changing nature of mobility, Toyota also displayed a concept that was meant to explore the fundamental appeal of machines: fine craftsmanship, beauty, simplicity and fascinating motion. As a true concept car, the Toyota KIKAI’s appeal is simultaneously free from and reliant on the core concepts of automobiles.
The KIKAI takes all the machinery normally hidden and makes an open display of its beauty. The vehicle’s inner workings become part of the exterior. In addition to the carefully designed form, the analog-style meters and switches offer an engaging connenction with the machinery.
Everything about this dune buggy-ish vehicle is meant to let the outside in. A small window at the driver’s feet allow the driver to really feel the movements of the tires, suspension and the rush of speed along the road surface. An expansive side window that reaches up to the roof delivers full enjoyment in urban and natural landscapes alike. While most vehicles conceal their inner workings beneath smooth sheet metal, this concept encourages us to appreciate the complex beauty of the mechanical aspects of cars. More broadly, it reminds us of the appeal of the physical and tactile in a digital age.