Electric cars of all shapes and sizes grabbed the spotlight during the 2019 Tokyo Auto Show. The electrified vehicles on display in Tokyo ranged from tiny city-cars and autonomous shuttle buses, to exotic sports cars, rugged off-roaders, and a self-driving van that doubles as a rolling living room.
- Electric cars and hybrids were the main attractions this year at the Tokyo Motor Show.
- Lexus wowed with the LF-30, a wedge-shaped sports car with giant gullwing-style doors.
- Honda show the next-gen Fit, which will be offered as a hybrid.
- Nissan’s Ariya electric SUV looks ready to roll onto dealership lots right now.
- Mitsubishi opted for a lunar rover-style design for its outrageous MI-Tech PHEV Concept.
If variety is the spice of life, the wild and wacky electric cars shown at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Show have things cranked up to ghost-pepper-levels of heat. In fact, the range of electrified cars and trucks shown in Tokyo covered so much ground, it was hard to keep up with the action. Toyota, for example, had a handful of electric vehicles, ranging from self-drive buses for the upcoming 2020 Olympic games, to a Lexus sports car that comes with its own drone.
Companies including Honda, with its latest Fit subcompact, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, and Suzuki all had quirky cars and concepts on display. Some, like the Nissan Ariya SUV, looked ready to land in a dealership right now. Others, such as the Mitsubishi MI-Tech PHEV, look more ready take off for another planet. Keep reading to discover the coolest, strangest, wildest and weirdest electric cars shown in Tokyo.
The Lexus LF-30 is all-wheel drive and positions each electric motor within its wheel hubs. (Photo: Lexus)
Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept
Lexus wasn’t content creating a sports coupe that mounts electric motors within each wheel and has all-wheel drive. And no, giving that same concept car an outlandish wedge-shaped exterior wasn’t this car’s most dazzling aspect in Tokyo. Nope, without a doubt the LF-30’s craziest feature is that it comes with its own drone. This can be deployed to help carry luggage or shopping bags, and it’s a sign of what driving might be like decades in the future.
The Mazda MX-30 is an electric SUV that’s positioned between the CX-3 and CX-5 sport-utilities. (Photo: Mazda)
The Mazda MX-30 is an electric SUV that’s headed for production within 1-2 years from now. Sales will start in Japan, but look for the MX-30 to arrive in the U.S. sometime next year, or early in 2021. A throwback touch includes rear doors that are hinged at the back. These are similar to the doors last used on the Mazda RX-8 sports car. Range and pricing has not been disclosed, though it’s likely Mazda engineers will want the MX-30 to offer a minimum of 200 miles per charge.
The Toyota e-Pallette will help transport people during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (Photo: Toyota)
Toyota was undoubtedly the hardest working automaker when it came to introducing electric vehicles during the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. For example, take the e-Pallette, a self-driving electric bus that will be put into service next year during both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The e-Pallette is a wide and roomy bus fitted with Level 4 autonomy. This means it can drive without any human intervention in nearly all circumstances. Up to 20 e-Pallette buses will be put into service as low-speed automated shuttles.
The Nissan Ariya is entirely electric and about the same size as the current Rogue SUV. (Photo: Nissan)
At a Tokyo show that went big on splashy concept cars, the Nissan Ariya is notable for being straightforward and normal. In fact, the Ariya looks about ready to roll into a dealership showroom. No big surprise there, since Nissan says the Ariya is ushering in a new exterior design theme for the brand. Powered by two electric motors, the Ariya is all-wheel drive and uses some of the same engineering know-how used in the Nissan GT-R sports car. Power and range were not revealed but, for reference, the current Nissan Leaf hatchback has a driving range of 226 miles. Expect a production version of the Ariya to better that number.
The next Honda Fit will have a hybrid powertrain available. (Photo: Honda)
The Honda Fit is a sharp-handling subcompact that’s easy on your wallet, thanks to its low price and frugal fuel mileage. This next version of the Fit, shown for the first time in Tokyo, carries on the budget-friendly theme of its predecessor. Beneath the notably stubbier hood of the new model, Honda is offering a hybrid powertrain for the first time. No performance or mileage specs have been revealed, though it’s interesting to see Honda taking one of its most eco-conscious models down the hybrid route. Mileage should be outstanding.
The Mitsubishi MI-Tech PHEV looks like it came straight from a futuristic action movie. (Photo: Mitsubishi)
Mitsubishi MI-Tech PHEV
The design alone of the Mitsubishi MI-Tech PHEV is enough to cause a commotion. It’s not everyday you see a two-passenger mini SUV that looks ready to do battle in a Marvel movie. Beneath the blocky body and behind those chunky tires, the MI-Tech sports four electric motors, two at each axle, and a turbine-powered range extender. That’s correct, instead of using a gas-powered internal combustion engine for added range, Mitsubishi is turning to turbines. While there is no way this concept is reaching production, the cutting-edge powertrain shows what Mitsu might be thinking 3-5 years from now.
The Toyota LQ Concept uses Artificial Intelligence to form a connection to the driver. (Photo: Toyota)
Toyota LQ Concept
Did you ever give your car or truck an endearing name? Well, in the future, Toyota vehicles might have a pet name for you as well. The LQ Concept is a tech showcase for self-drive systems and electric engines. But it’s the Artificial Intelligence (AI) side of things that make this car pretty cool, and a little creepy. That’s because the LQ Concept wants to “bond” with the driver, to monitor the human occupant’s mood and cater the drive to it. This could involve changing cabin music, adjusting interior lighting, turning on an interior perfume diffuser, or maybe shooting a piping hot espresso out of the dashboard for those times you need a pick-me-up. We’re just joking about that last feature, don’t worry.
Living up to its name, the Toyota Ultra-Compact BEV concept is battery powered and very tiny. (Photo: Toyota)
Toyota Ultra-Compact BEV
You can’t knock this Toyota for being an example of false advertisement. That’s because the Toyota Ultra-Compact BEV is exactly what the name implies. This super-tiny coupe is battery powered and meant for life zipping through a crowded city. It’s targeted at older clientele who need a basic means of getting around. The top speed is about 35 mph, and total driving range hovers around 60 miles.
Have places to go, but would you rather stay in your living room? The Suzuki Hanare is here to help. (Photo: Suzuki)
The Suzuki Hanare is the ultimate solution for couch potatoes with places to go. The entire cabin of this boxy concept is devoted to lounging around. There is no steering wheel or driver’s seat of any kind. Instead, a giant screen is flanked by two sofas at either end of the vehicle. As you probably guessed, the Hanare concept has self-drive systems to let you relax, kick back, and enjoy the ride (and your favorite movie).
The Nissan IMk, shown on the right, is a tiny electric-powered people mover. (Photo: Nissan)
The Nissan IMk is a tiny van that stretches roughly 135-inches in total length. That’s more than 30-inches shorter than the current Nissan Versa sedan sold in the U.S. Not much was revealed about the engine or battery pack in the IMk, though this mini-minivan does have one interesting throwback feature. The front seats are a traditional bench, not the twin buckets found in pretty much everything since Mercury stopped building the Grand Marquis. So snuggle up and enjoy the electric drive in the IMk!
WHY THIS MATTERS
Electric vehicles weren’t just a sideshow in Tokyo, they were the auto show’s main attraction.