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Tokyo Motor Show offers glimpse at the future of ‘mobility’

Toyota's FCV Plus
Toyota’s FCV Plus

TOKYO (TR) – The 44th Tokyo Motor Show opens Friday with a focus on self-driving cars and smart cities that will change our roads tomorrow.

Of the roughly 400 vehicles and motorcycles on display at Tokyo Big Sight, the concept cars from Toyota, Japan and the world’s largest automaker, steal the show. The FCV Plus, a hydrogen-powered car with a slick white body and green glass that resembles something straight out of “The Jetsons,” can also generate power for the home. “The vehicle can be transformed into a stable source of electric power for use at home or away,” according to the company.

Its Kikai model, meanwhile, looks more like something from the earliest days of motoring. With its engine in full view, the small car looks impractical in every way. Toyota says it was “designed to explore and emphasize the fundamental appeal of machines,” which is another way of saying: Do not expect to see it on roads anytime soon.

Nissan, which will gradually begin rolling out autonomous driving technology in the coming years, unveiled its IDS concept car. Without a steering wheel in the conventional sense, the driver’s seat also includes a tablet computer that can be used when the car does the navigation itself. Nissan says it is on track to get autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020. The IDS, an electric vehicle, boasts more than twice the power of Nissan’s current EV, the Leaf.

Beyond the novel and futuristic concept vehicles, the Motor Show also touts technologies that will define future Tokyo. In its “Smart Mobility City 2015” area, companies allow visitors to ride self-driving vehicles, play with futuristic touchscreens and 3D displays that are likely to be installed in Tokyo train stations in time for the 2020 Olympic Games, and see the sensor technologies that are ready for vehicles today.

The show runs through Sunday. Tickets are 3,500 yen.