Could this finally be the year when Japan’s autumn motor show fights back and overshadows its calendar neighbour in the United States?
In recent years, the biennial show in Tokyo has been alarmingly close to the West Coast extravaganza in Los Angeles - and the American event has generally taken the lion’s share of the big launches.
That looks unlikely to happen this year, though. The two shows have been pulled further apart in the calendar, admittedly - Tokyo is now well before the end of October while LA has gone further into November to create a distinct gap. And yet the launch line-up that we’re going to see at the Big Sight exhibition centre in a few weeks’ time is a fair bit more appealing than the sparse offering that appears likely in downtown LA.
The key is that Japan’s domestic manufacturers are really pulling out the stops in 2015, whereas in recent years they’ve done far too good a job of hiding their light under a bushel - or just viewing Tokyo as a shop window for local oddities instead of stuff the rest of the world could be interested in.
Just look at the list of vehicles that have already been confirmed for Tokyo. Toyota? The new Prius will be joined by a range of concepts, including an intriguing small sports car called S-FR. Mazda? Only a show car that previews the next generation of rotary-engined sports car. Honda? A new fuel-cell vehicle. Subaru? A concept showing the next Impreza. Mitsubishi? A neat-looking small SUV that’s said to preview an all-electric version of the ASX.
And those are the cars we know about. Lexus could well reveal its next generation of LS. And we still don’t know precisely what Nissan will bring to the party to go alongside its Teatro for Dayz concept.
And LA? We expect to see the Range Rover Evoque Convertible, and probably an SVR variant of Jaguar’s F-Type. Porsche’s facelifted four-wheel-drive 911s will be there too, along with the admittedly cool Cayman GT4 Clubsport racer. But other heavyweight launches look thin on the ground; if Fiat’s new 124 - pencilled in as ‘likely’ instead of ‘certain’ - does turn up in LA, it could well have the spotlight to itself.
In truth, this is no bad thing. The car world needs a strong Japanese show, and it’s certainly time that keen engineers and designers at the likes of Toyota and Honda were given the freedom to really innovate and excite again. And even if LA is a bit quieter than normal, it means that Detroit 2016 - the traditional frost-bitten year-opener - could be a belter.