Here is a look at the first Press Day at the Tokyo Auto Show. Part two of today’s Auto News will be posted shortly.
For some time there has been speculation that deep inside its development labs Mazda was working on a new rotary engine. At the Tokyo Auto Show today, Mazda unveiled a rotary powered two seat sports car concept, called the RX-VISION. It is said to be a front engine, rear wheel drive configuration “powered by the next generation SKYACTIV-R rotary engine.” The company said while “mass production is currently on hold, Mazda has never stopped research and development efforts …” There are a number of technical issues that must still be resolved for the rotary to be reborn, but auto writers note that two anniversaries involving either the legendary RX-7 or the rotary engine will occur in 2017 and 2018 and that might be a dandy time for the unique engine to reappear.
Suppose the day comes when self driving cars are the norm in the world’s largest cities. What will the experience be like? Mercedes “Vision Tokyo” gives us a taste. Strictly a concept, this is not a car but a “Club Lounge” that would seat five in a hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicle that generates its own electricity and would have a range of more than 600 miles. Inside is an oval shaped couch rather than a seat or two with wraparound LED screens, and side windows painted in the color of the vehicle. If the need arises, Mercedes said, a seat facing in the direction of travel can be released and old fashioned driving can be accomplished.
“The future of autonomous driving and zero emissions EV’s” was unveiled at the Nissan stand. The IDS concept is a self driving car that imitates the driver’s own style and operating preferences even when he or she turns driving over to the vehicle. In Piloted drive, where the car does all the work, Nissan said the steering wheel recedes into the center of the instrument panel and a large flat screen comes out. All for seats rotate slightly inward “facilitating easier conversation.” When the driver wants to take control, all seats face forward, the steering wheel takes its proper position and a heads up display shows route and other driving information. Interior lighting switches to blue “stimulating the ability to concentrate.” Both operating modes are pictured. The ultimate goal in all this, Nissan said, is “zero traffic fatalities and zero emissions.”
Honda unveiled the production model of its fuel cell vehicle that it says “fuses the ease of use of a gasoline powered vehicle and values that are unique to a FCV at a high level.” The fuel cell stack is said to be 33 percent smaller than the previous version and as compact as the V6 engine. Lease sales will begin in Japan next March and eventually leasing will make its way to select U.S. locations.
Over at Subaru, the Impreza 5-door concept is said to preview the next generation of that model and the design direction that Suby will follow in the future. The pictured concept is expected to make its formal debut late next year as a 2017 model.
Readers: stick around more auto news will be coming your way this morning.