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Next-generation green cars in spotlight at Tokyo Motor Show

Wed, 11/20/2013 - 11:49am
The Associated Press

TOKYO, Nov. 20 (Kyodo) — The Tokyo Motor Show opened to the press Wednesday, with leading automakers showcasing next-generation fuel-cell cars and electric vehicles as they look to the burgeoning green car market.

At the 43rd motor show, which will open to the wider public from Saturday at Tokyo Big Sight, at least 76 vehicles will be showcased for their world premiere.

Nearly 180 companies from 12 countries are joining in the event, but the "Big Three" U.S. automakers -- General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC -- skipped the biennial event as they did last time.

At the event, Toyota Motor Corp., Asia's largest automaker, is showing off a next-generation fuel-cell car powered by electricity produced by combining hydrogen and oxygen.

The sedan-type vehicle, which is expected to go on sale in 2015, can be fully charged with hydrogen in three minutes, and it will have a driving distance of more than 500 kilometers per charge.

The vehicle is also capable of supplying enough electricity needed at home for more than a week in the event of natural disasters.

Nissan Motor Co., the front-runner in the development of electric vehicles, is pitching its new zero-emission car dubbed the BladeGlider, featuring a distinct triangular shape and extremely narrow front track.

The three-seater vehicle is just a concept car for now, but Nissan said it is considering marketing it sometime in the future.

Among other eye-catching vehicles is Honda Motor Co.'s minicar-sized sport convertible. The gasoline-powered S660 concept, making its world premiere, is based on the automaker's EV-Ster concept car which was exhibited at the previous motor show.

Honda said the sport concept was developed for avid automobile fans who would want to own a second car and enable more people to enjoy driving. The automaker is planning to put it on the Japanese market in the future, but details have yet to be decided.

The motor show also offers some rather eccentric vehicles such as Toyota's FV2. The driver of the three-wheeler can control the car by moving his or her body all around and shifting weight, rather than steering the wheel.

The car is also equipped with a function that can sense the driver's mood by using voice and facial recognition system, and suggests suitable destinations to the driver while driving.

Foreign automakers including Swedish automaker Volvo Car Corp., Renault S.A. of France and Germany's Volkswagen AG will also be showcasing products at the show.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, the event's organizer, is aiming to attract as many visitors as it did at the previous show. In 2011, a total of 842,600 auto fans flocked to the motor show, but the number of visitors has declined to less than half compared with its peak.

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