Tokyo 2019: The JDM Electric Cars are Coming
With the exception of the Nissan Leaf, Japanese automakers have largely stood on the sidelines of the electric vehicle up to this point, instead focusing their efforts largely on traditional gas hybrids as well as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. That will be changing soon though, and during this week's Tokyo Motor Show a number of new Japanese-developed EVs were shown, with some wild concepts and others that are production ready.
Nissan Ariya Concept
Nissan, the makers the aforementioned Leaf showed off a new electric crossover concept called the Ariya, and unlike some of the other crazy looking machines that were shown off, this one looks close to production.
"Timeless Japanese Futurism" is the term that Nissan uses to describe the Ariya, which features a modern crossover profile and an interior that's described as lounge-like thanks to its spacious layout and flat floor.
Nissan didn't release any specifics on the Ariya's range or power output, but it uses a dual motor setup with all four wheels driven. The AWD setup is also said to have trickle down engineering from vehicles like the GT-R and the Nissan Patrol 4x4.
While the Ariya was shown as a concept vehicle, it looks to fit right into to Nissan's plans for a larger EV lineup with models to slot in above the leaf and to take advantage of the incredible popularity of crossover-sized vehicles around the world. We'd bet on seeing a production version of this one rather soon.
Speaking of production ready EVs, Mazda was also on hand in Tokyo to show off its first ever electric vehicle, the MX-30. While the naming brings to mind sports cars like the MX-5, the MX-30 is a small crossover packing a 35.5-kWh battery.
The MX-30 features rear-hinged doors similar to those used on the Mazda RX-8 (or BMW i3 if you are looking for an EV comparison) and while we don't expect it take down any Teslas or Porsche Taycans, Mazda says the MX-30 will feature the same driving dynamics the company is known for.
At this point Mazda only confirmed the normal EV version of the MX-30, although it also appears a range extender version will also be added a later time with the long-anticipated rotary engine making its return at that time.
The MX-30 will sit on the smaller side of the EV spectrum and seems largely focused on the Japanese and European markets, but it could also serve as a way for Mazda to get its feet wet in the American electric car market. Sales will begin in Europe next year.
Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept
From there we move on to one of the more extreme takes on the electric vehicle with the Lexus LF-30 Electrified Concept. Rather than something that will be on sale in the coming months, the LF-30 is said to preview the performance luxury car of the year of the 2030.
Needless to say, Lexus sees that car as having an electric powertrain, with the LF-30 having four in-wheel electric motors along with a steer by wire system and a whole load of autonomous driving technology.
In addition to being able to drive itself, the LF-30 is also imagined with a wireless charging setup for the car's battery pack, which is something that could be potentially be a game changer when it comes to the crucial charging infrastructure that an EV-based world will need.
As for the styling, Lexus has tripled down on the "future" feeling with a pair of gigantic gull wing doors and an interior layout that looks more like a space ship than an automobile. Keep an eye out for it at your local Lexus dealer in about 11 years from now.
Mitsubishi MI-Tech Concept
Last but not least we get to one of the most unusual vehicles shown in Tokyo this year, the Mitsubishi MI-Tech Concept. Rather than a full a battery electric, the Mi-Tech is actually a plug-in hybrid in the form of a two-seat dune buggy.
Even more interesting is that rather than a traditional engine, the gasoline part of the MI-Tech's drivetrain is a turbine-engine generator. The idea is that such a motor could easily be developed to run different types of fuels depending on which region its in.
As for the electric part of the drivetrain, it's said to use a quad motor four-wheel drive system with active yaw control, and Mitubishi imagines you could even make the MI-Tech do 180s by counter-rotating the left and right tires. Because why not?
While it's unlikely that something like this would ever get the green light for production, it would actually be just the sort of thing to help spark some interest in a brand that many have forgotten still sells new cars.
Then again it's not all EVs and plug-in hybrids coming out of Japan these days. When it comes to alternative fuels, Toyota is keeping the hydrogen dream alive with the new RWD 2021 Mirai.