Anyone visiting Toyota and Lexus at the Tokyo show would struggle to believe that this was a showcase from the world’s most successful car manufacturer – both stands felt lifeless, as if the company’s heart wasn’t in it.
True, there was quite a generous smattering of heavily acronymed show cars, some quite amusing - the truck-cab Hi-CT city car was fun (left) – but most of these devices seemed to be about apologising for the very existence of the motor car.
The motorised chair that is the iReal (right) might be a genuine attempt to re-examine personal mobility, but it’s about as credible as the Sinclair C5 or, if you’re unfamiliar with that dangerous ‘80s joke, the entertainingly impractical Segway. Like both these devices, the iReal appears to need a road network all of its own, being incompatible either with pavements or roads occupied by 40 tonne trucks. And how does it deal with steps?
The half-built, 420kg 1/X was claimed to be a third the weight of a Prius, though some may find that unsurprising given the absence of doors, a dashboard and the odd seat. In fact, it contained some interesting ideas, if nothing new; thin net seats were used on the original Citroen 2CV, plant-derived interior trim has appeared in Mercs and the smaller engine, tyres and fuel tank all naturally deriving from a lower weight. True, a 500cc plug-in hybrid the size of a Prius would be radical, but there was little here to confirm that Toyota has the answers. It does have the resource of course, but this distinctly unthrilling concept would do little to convince you of its ambition.
The highlights, in fact, were two show cars we’ve already seen - the FT-HS hybrid sports car concept and the brilliant little iQ city car. Happily, both are targeted for production.