5 KOOKY CONCEPTS from the Tokyo Motor Show

Tokyo is where we expect crazy – the good kind of crazy that we love. After all, it’s the land that gave us high-tech toilets and vending machines that sell bread in a tin (and many other items which we shall not speak of here). So, we expected nothing less than kooky during this year’s Tokyo Motor Show and we were not disappointed. Here are some of our favourites:

Toyota Kikai

It looks like Toyota has turned a car inside out for the world to see its inner workings with the Kikai, which means “machine” in Nihon-go. Could it be that the Japanese automaker wants us to reflect on and appreciate the mechanisms of the car, which is what makes it truly work, rather than just admire it for its external beauty? Or…the engineers have just been reading Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat when they dreamt this one up. The Kikai goes steampunk with analogue dials and retro binnacles, switches and toggles. The exposed workings also can be appreciated from the inside, as the driver can watch the tyres spin, through windows mounted near the floor. The Kikai is pure fantasy, but it sure exists in ours.

Honda Wander Stand & Wander Walker

More imaginative creations from those crazy Japanese engineers. These could be two more solutions for the ‘last mile’ and would come in handy in the incredibly packed metropolis that is Tokyo. The Wander Walker scooter (on the right) is super-slim and maneuverable in tight spaces, while the Wander Stand can seat two adults and slide forward, backward, sideways and diagonally…have they been reading about Willy Wonka’s Glass Elevator?

Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo: Connected Lounge

This one is a favourite for many. The monolithic design is certainly unusual and the concept builds on the idea that the car can become an extended space for interacting and entertaining – like in a lounge – as driving duties become increasingly autonomous. Rows of seats have been replaced with a wraparound sofa, allowing passengers to be seated facing one another for a chin-wag enroute to their destination. Or, they could fiddle with the holographic entertainment system emanating from the centre.

According to Mercedes, the Vision Tokyo is powered by a hybrid of battery and hydrogen power, which provides a combined range of 610 miles.

Mazda RX Vision

Mazda is taking inspiration from its past as it races into the future. The RX Vision isn’t exactly kooky, we admit, but there is a touch of eccentricity in what could potentially rest under its long hood – the Skyactiv-R rotary engine. Although the plug was pulled on Mazda’s rotary-powered production models – the last being the RX8 in 2012 – it appears that the R&D on rotary technology has persisted. The rotary engine (or Wankel engine) generates power through spinning triangular rotors – not regular pumping pistons – but it was notorious for poor efficiency, high emissions and low reliability. However, Mazda did use the setup to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991, so fans are eager to see Mazda come back with an improved version.

Suzuki’s Mighty Deck

In space-deprived Tokyo, small is always the way to go. We would describe the Mighty Deck as a mini-car with big dreams of becoming a pickup. It measures only 11′ long, 4′ 8″ wide and 5′ tall, and has an open rear cargo bed, which can be lengthened or shortened by moving the partition, for carrying things like groceries to a surfboard. This nifty vehicle is powered by a 658cc three-cylinder turbo engine and an electric motor. The Mighty Deck reminds us of the Multix, and though we do not know whether it will make it to production, we are reminded that great things do sometimes come in small packages.

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