Tokyo Auto Show Features Hybrid and Fuel Cell Concept Vehicles
October 26, 2005
The Tokyo Auto Show, Japan's premiere auto show, opened to the public on October 22nd, allowing Japanese automakers to display their latest and craziest concepts in vehicles. This year's show has a heavy emphasis on fuel cell and hybrid vehicles.
Honda debuted its latest FCX concept, a fuel-cell-powered sedan featuring an 80-kilowatt front motor and two 25-kilowatt rear in-wheel motors mounted in a low-slung vehicle. A 100-kilowatt fuel cell stack is tucked into a center tunnel running up the middle of the car and features vertical gas flow, an innovative process in which oxygen and hydrogen flow downward through the stack. This allows gravity to help discharge water from the stack, improving performance and allowing "ultra-low-temperature start-up performance on par with that of a gasoline engine," according to Honda. In addition, a "newly developed hydrogen absorption material" extends the vehicle's cruising range to 350 miles. The vehicle is matched with Honda's Home Energy Station, a system that converts natural gas into hydrogen to fuel the vehicle and power a 5-kilowatt fuel cell, which provides power and hot water to the home. See the Honda press release and FCX Web site.
Toyota displayed a hybrid Estima minivan and a boxy new concept fuel cell vehicle, called the "Fine-X," which features four in-wheel motors. Toyota's Lexus division brought the GS450h, a rear-wheel-drive hybrid sedan featuring a V6 engine, a high-output electric motor, and an electrically controlled, six-speed automatic transmission. Ford Motor Company was represented by Mazda, which displayed the Premacy Hydrogen RE (rotary engine) Hybrid concept. Based on the Mazda5 minivan, the vehicle combines an electric motor with a rotary engine that can run on hydrogen or gasoline. In the concept vehicle, a tank filled with compressed hydrogen gas has replaced the third row of seats. Mazda also brought the Senku concept car, a hybrid sports car with a direct injection gasoline rotary engine and a motor, both mounted in the center of the car. Nissan debuted an egg-shaped three-seat electric vehicle called the Pivo, with a cabin that can be rotated completely around, thanks to drive-by-wire technologies. Daihatsu exhibited a hybrid sports car that it claims will achieve 87 miles per gallon, plus its third-generation "Ultra Fuel Economy" vehicle, the UFE-III, a hybrid minivehicle that achieves nearly 170 miler per gallon. And carrying the spirit of the show to the two-wheeled world, Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. introduced four concept vehicles: a hybrid scooter, two electric motorcycles, and a motorcycle powered with a methanol fuel cell. See the press releases from Toyota, Lexus, Ford, Nissan, Daihatsu, and Yamaha.