As the dust settles on the Tokyo Show press days, so the verdict is already in. Aside from all the hybrids, new electric cars, Lexus LFA and Toyobaru, this was undoubtedly the strangest, most austere, low key Tokyo Show....ever.

And there was a reason for all that and it wasn't just about saving money in a recession or the absence of all the big European, Korean and US makers at the show creating all those vast empty spaces. I was told by more than one insider that in the run up to the show, Japan's car manufacturers and the authorities all got together and concluded that a "quiet" show would be appropriate at Tokyo this year.

Hi-res Tokyo motor show pictures

Tokyo motor show report

At a time when the Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishis and Mazdas of this world are all in the red, and there have been many factory layoffs, the feeling was that another glitzy, gung ho expo in spirit of Tokyo shows of old would not send out the right message.

This explains perfectly why the 200mph 4.8-litre V10 Lexus, Japan's biggest exoticar in years, was unveiled in some darkened corner of an otherwise barren, vast, uninviting Toyota stand. No big show and dance. The LFA's arrival could not have been more downbeat if it tried.

Strange, yes, but the Japanese have a long history of doing things together, acting in a group with a lot of emphasis on harmony. They can also be big on self-restraint which goes some way to explaining the deliberate K rations approach to the show this year, as hard as many non Japanese might find that hard to understand.

Still, maybe the cut backs went too far. The story goes that some Chinese journalists were going around on press day asking whether the rumour was true.


That this was the last ever Tokyo motor show. Judging by the paucity of pop and fizz on the stands (stands that in the past had been a hive of activity), you could see what they were getting at. In terms of spectacle, Tokyo this year was a pale shadow of shows past and it's easy to see it now slipping down the ranks and Shanghai taking over as the top Asian show.

So Japan's car makers and JAMA, the organising body, now have a mission. To throw off the shackles and restore the Tokyo show to its brilliant former top flight again.

They have two years to do it. The 2011 show really will be make or break.