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Crazy concepts: Toyota lines ’em up for ’15 Tokyo auto show


Toyota Kikai: Turning the motor car inside out. Image courtesy Toyota Japan

The Kikai makes the car’s mechanical parts something to be seen and admired rather than hidden. The vehicle’s inner workings have become part of the exterior in a design concept that breaks from all convention.

This approach extends to the fuel tank, exhaust, instruments and switches. There is even a small window by the driver’s feet to give sight of the tyres, suspension and road and the front suspension’s upper control arms can be watched through the windscreen. This, Toyota says, brings “a new driving sensation that reveals how actions of cruising, turning and stopping in everyday driving are achieved”.

The driver’s seat is central while a triangular arrangement of the three passenger seats and an expansive side window that extends up to the roofline create a congenial cabin environment.

Toyota S-FR: Conventional sports car but with its market intended to be entry-level buyers. Image courtesy Toyota Japan

The S-FR concept celebrates Toyota’s heritage of light, fun-to-drive, sports cars that stretches back from the current GT86 to the 2000GT and S800 of the 1960’s.

It is pitched as an entry model with a focus on responsiveness and character that, the automaker says, “can make a new generation fall in love with driving”. Toyota sees it as the kind of car that can attract its own diehard fan base of drivers and customisers.

The design, Toyota says, marries simplicity and compact design “to bring human and machine closer”. The car is said to have an exceptionally light body in a front engine/rear drive six-speed manual transmission drive train. The car has a long nose and wide stance for a classic sports-car profile.

The engine has a front/midship location, Toyota says, with “optimal weight distribution and independent suspension securing excellent cornering performance”.

FCV Plus: Hydrogen power that can do more than just drive the car. Image courtesy Toyota Japan

This concept, Toyota says, explores how a hydrogen fuel-cell can also be deployed to as an energy source for general use. The car has its own hydrogen fuel tank but can also generate electricity from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle to produce power in various places – at home, at work, or further afield.

This versatility, the automaker says, “reflects Toyota’s vision of a sustainable society where hydrogen energy is in widespread use”.

Compressed hydrogen has a higher energy density than electricity, can be produced from a wide range of raw materials, and is easy to store –qualities which make it a promising future source of energy.

Toyota’s aim is to give the automobile a new sense of purpose by developing fuel-cell vehicles from eco cars into energy cars.

The fuel-cell stack in the FCV Plus is mounted between the front wheels, the hydrogen tank behind the rear seat. Together with and independent electric motor in each wheel, this allows for a spacious cabin within a compact body shell.

The car is 3.8m long, 1.75m wide and 1.54m high and rides on a three-metre wheelbase. Its distinctive sleek exterior design is supported by a rigid frame in an overall light package and, Toyota says, the design was conceived to express not only the car’s advanced technology but also its outstanding environmental performance.

Kirobo Mini

Kirobo the robot astronaut gained fans around the world during his International Space Station mission earlier in 2015. Now Toyota has created Kirobo Mini – that’s him in the masthead image – a robot with the same “heart” that it’s hoped can become a friendly companion through communicating with humans through expressions and gestures.

Kirobo stands 100mm tall, weighs about 200g, speaks Japanese and was developed through Toyota Heart, a joint project with Denso, Robo Garage and the University of Tokyo’s advanced science and technology research centre to explore communication between humans and robots.

Also on show at Tokyo will be the fourth-generation Prius and the C-HR Concept that previews a production compact hybrid crossover that Toyota will unveil in 2016.

The show will run from October 30 to November 8 with news media days on October 28 and 29 2015.

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