At 11 o’clock tonight UK time, the doors will open for the Tokyo motor show – and what a show it is shaping up to be.
There was a time not that long ago that the Tokyo show looked in danger of falling off the radar of international manufacturers and becoming a large but domestic market led event, but this year’s line-up suggests that’s no longer the case.
Take VW, which out here is a relative minnow in the market (albeit one of the leading importers of cars). It has already revealed the new Passat Alltrack model it plans to unveil and has just announced that it will be taking the covers off another all-new and as-yet unseen concept car for the first time at around 1.45am UK time.
If the unveiling of two new cars (strictly a new derivative of a best seller and a likely production hinting concept, to be entirely accurate) isn’t enough evidence of the significance of the show, then perhaps the line-up of the company’s big names will help convince you: chairman Martin Winterkorn is here, as is Porsche boss Michael Macht, Audi boss Rupert Stadler and Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann.
They’re not here to promote the show, of course, but to push the VW Group’s diverse brands as hard as they can. The warm reception for the Up city car, and some particularly keen pricing, has given their stated goal of becoming the world’s largest car maker by 2018 some real momentum – and where better to hammer that home than in Toyota’s back yard?
The only fly in the ointment to that particular issue may be the thorny question of VW’s part ownership of local favourites Suzuki, with whom they are currently locked in a bitter dispute that is currently going through the arbitration courts. As you’d imagine, the news is making major headlines in Tokyo, adding some political spice to the new car launch schedule on show day.
The doors haven't opened to the show yet, but it's intriguing stuff. As ever, throughout the show you’ll be able to read all the news and opinions, plus see a gallery of show pictures, on www.autocar.co.uk
Alternatively, enjoy the highlights of the Tokyo motor show in our free Car Pics iPad app - great high-res photography (1024x768 pixels) exclusive to the iPad