Today I saw the future... and I think I like it...
The last week has seen the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show on at the Tokyo Big Sight, so I took the opportunity today to check it out with Jimmy. Unfortunately Molly has been holed up with a case of tonsillitis, so she wasn't up to coming so had to leave her tucked up in bed for the day to fend for herself.
Mitsubishi's latest offerings (I think that is a complimentary navigator stuck on the side...)
While I am far from a petrol head and not one to get overly excited about how fast a car can go, or how big its motor is, or how much torque it produces (to me its more important that it will start when I turn the key...), it has been one of those events I have seen on the TV news over the years and thought that it would be a pretty amazing place to visit. Funnily enough it was probably not the cars themselves that excited me the most, it was the technology being displayed that will change the way we live and interact with the world around us and the potential effects that will have on our built environment. It seems most of the car companies have sub-compact electric vehicles, ranging in size from single seaters to 2 and 4 seaters as well as an astounding array of other variations based on various drive systems. The idea seems to be that in the future instead of owning our own cars there will be these car stations around the cities we live in where you go and rent a car to suit your needs for the trip you want to make. Now as someone who has lived without a car for 14 months now, this would seem an ideal solution in a city such as Tokyo with an efficient mass transit system already in place to deal with the majority of your travel, and rental car outlets to deal with those times when you just need a car, maybe to bring home a large load of groceries, or get to somewhere outside of the transit network in a hurry. Coupled with this were the collision avoidance systems and the situationaly aware navigation systems which would provide alternative routes where something such as congestion or roadworks have effected the preferred route, and which can warn of hazards on the road as they happen (fallen objects, etc), tell you when it is time to put chains on or even of vehicles approaching from side roads to be aware of.
Then there are the alternative fuel systems which have always seemed like Science Fiction from afar, until you see just how far advanced they really are, of course there is the electric and hybrid technologies which has been making headways over recent years, but to see fuel cells and hydrogen fuel systems that are already out there and being used shows just how fast we are actually moving away from our dependence on conventional petrol and diesel engines.
Jimmy test driving VICS navigation system
Demonstration of Hydrogen System in action
Finally of course there are all the flash cars (and the good looking girls adorning most of them), the latest vehicles from all the major companies and of course their concept vehicles, which will probably never make the consumer market but which nonetheless play an important role in developing the cars of the future. My favourite was probably the Honda NSX Concept car with its glazed roof and sexy aerodynamic styling, could see a lot of speeding tickets being racked up in that.
Honda NSX Concept Car
Tesla's rear facing, in-boot child seats.
Other quirky ideas on show were Tesla's rear facing kid seats in the boot of their latest sedan, now I know many parents would love to put the terrors in the boot when travelling, well now you can and it is perfectly legal and not considered child abuse, so head on down to your nearest Tesla dealer now. On a side note I was lucky enough to get a lift with a client recently in his Tesla coupe, wow now that is a car to get the non-car enthusiast excited. The torque was amazing and the pick up was instantaneous, shame we didn't get onto the open roads to really get it going.
Then there is the Honda Uni-Cub, essentially it is a motorised seat, which you seem to steer with body weight transfer. I am not sure where you would use it but if you need it they have it......
The Motor Show is a very popular event, I checked the website before going and saw that they averaged over 75,000 visitors per day for each day of the show, which is why we had to do a lot of queuing throughout the day (20 minutes in line just to buy a souvenir car), while the queue to see the latest Honda S660 Concept Sports Car was so long it snaked along the entire length of one hall around the corner and across the other end, so we gave up on that one.
Unfortunately we didn't get to see everything on display (probably only saw just under half of what was on offer), but are pleased to have been and look forward to next years show where Jimmy will be another year older and maybe have a bit more stamina to allow him to hold out for a bit longer before getting too tired.