Weird and Wonderful Vehicles

Last weekend I went to attend Tokyo Motor Show 2009 which started on October 24.  This year, because of the recession the show was dominated mostly by Japanese car makers and only ten automakers have participated, compared to 35 participants in the last show held two years ago.  There were number of concept vehicles trying to make impact on spectators, but something which caught my attention was some of the Weird and Wonderful Vehicles.

These weird looking vehicles are not only different from the conventional vehicles but they also makes you think about car features which we take for granted – such as

  • Is steering wheel really needed to run the automobile?
  • Why is brake pedal or accelerator pedal needed?
  • Is it necessary for vehicles to have four wheels or just one wheel is sufficient?

These concept cars at Tokyo Motor Show makes us think with their unconventional approach in designing future generation automobiles which promise to change all the rules.  Here are some weird and wonderful vehicles I came across at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Toyota unveiled a wonderful model Toyota FT-EV II – a zero emission electric car which is partly recharged with solar cell and is without any steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedal.  With the help of Joysticks alone driver can control entire functionality of car.  To give driver a better vision of front vehicle, windshield extends farther downwards.

Honda have displayed their concept Honda U3-X – an electric unicycle which uses only one wheel instead of usual two or four wheels.  The U3-X is basically a personal mobility device which operates on the principle of gyroscope.

Other unconventional of models of Honda which I liked are

  • EV-Monpal – an electric supermarket scooter which contains comfortable padded chair.
  • Skydeck – a minivan with the seats which seems like float and is fixed to the center console without attaching to the floor.

Subaru debuted their model Subaru Hybrid Tourer which comes up with the concept that even for big vehicles, only one door is needed.

I also found the Yamaha electric motorcycles very impressive. Yamaha’s models EC-f and EC-fs are electric vehicles specially designed to make motorcycle ride easier as well as familiar amongst all age group people regardless of riding experience.
And, Nissan displayed its Land Glider electric car which is a perfect combination of a car and motorcycle.

This event will last till November 3, and I recommend you all to visit it if you happen to be in Tokyo during this time of the year.

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Honda Civic – Perfect Teenage Car

Honda is a popular and reliable name in automobile industry. Honda is well known worldwide for its extremely trendy and designer cars and motorcycles. ThisJapanese car maker beat ‘Nissan’ to become the second-largest Japanese car manufacturer since 2001.

Honda Accord and Honda Civic are tremendously popular among teens. These cars are economical, have stylish looks and designed with various safety features. They have trendy looks which attract young drivers. These dashing cars by Honda provide driving comfort which and are affordable by teens. Nowadays, youngsters are very sharp and knowledgeable and they are well aware of what to buy and where to buy it from. Teenagers try to select the combination of stylish look and lots safety features, when it comes to buying cars. They also choose the vehicles on the basis of its performance, size, reliability, economy and cost. They prefer the cars which are easy to drive with tough engine and miraculous mileage and yet have stylish looks and also stunning interiors and exteriors. Cars with wide-opening doors for entry and exit are highly appreciated by teens. And, Honda cars meet the specifications of demanding young drivers.

When it comes to buying a car of stylish looks with all modern amenities, youngsters prefer Honda as they offers luxury with high performance and great safety. Honda offers other features such as low insurance rate, fuel-efficiency, reliability, performance and safety features. Apart from their stylish looks, Honda cars work well in adverse weather conditions like rain or storm. And, Honda cars certainly add value to your status and style.

According to Auto Week magazine, Honda Civic is among the Top Ten cars which is a great value for money and safety. As per review by Edmunds.com, Honda Civic is a great teen car that has legendary reputation for drivetrain reliability with strong crash-test scores. This is the reason, why Honda Civic rules over the heart of teenaged motorists. If you are a responsible parent, please guide your teenaged children about the important safety features in Honda cars and educate them about safe driving habits for teens.

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Electric Cars from Japan – Future

Competition amongst the Japan’s domestic car makers has tremendously increased due to the introduction of electric vehicles. After Mitsubishi Motors introduced their oval shaped electric vehicle i-MiEV in July 2009, many Japanese car makers are trying to implement the electric car technology in their latest models to improve their sales.

Electric car models which will soon hit the Japanese market are i-MiEV from Mitsubishi, Plug-in-Stella from Subaru, EV II model from Toyota, next generation Swift and Alto from Suzuki and Nissan will launch Nissan Roox, Leaf and Land Glider.

Mitsubishi imiev

The big automakers from Japan will be displaying their latest concept cars based on the electric car technology in Tokyo Motor Show 2009 starting from October 24, 2009. If you visit this grand show, you can get a good idea of cars which are expected to come out in near future.

Though there is lot of hype being created about electric vehicles, but one question is always being asked which is ‘whether electric vehicles can really help to control global warming?’ Well we will have to wait and watch to see the outcome.

There are many advantages of an electric car, but the main benefit of Electric car over conventional gasoline powered car is that fewer components are required to build up an electric car, due to which assembly of cars become easier and even small companies can produce such cars. Many major Japanese car makers are now are investing heavily in design and development of electric cars.

So would the electric vehicles become commercially popular as soon as they are released? According to critics, Electric Vehicles still have a long way to go due to two major shortcomings – its price tag and short range of commuting. For example, i-MiEV costs about 4.6 million yen compared to just around 1 million yen for a gasoline powered compact car. Also, the electric model i-MiEV can cover the distance of just about 120 km, at the speed of about 40-60 km/hr; after that the batteries need to be recharged.

This gives us clear idea that to travel long distances using electric vehicles, there should be good infrastructure for recharging the car batteries throughout the country. A normal charge at 200 volts takes about seven hours which makes this further impracticable. A high speed charger which can charge the batteries in just 30 minutes looks like a promising solution, but at present, the high speed electric charger stations available in Japan are limited.

Electric Vehicles also have a positive side; the Japanese government has declared exemption of car tax on all environmental friendly vehicles including electric car. Also, a typical recharge of battery costs just one tenth of normal gasoline tank fill. So, though the Electric vehicles are bit costly, their low cost of maintenance can compensate for your initial investment.

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Nissan’s robot car mimics fish to prevent crashes

Have you ever wondered how fish swim in shoals without ever colliding with one another? Japanese car maker Nissan has taken inspiration from the animal kingdom to design a tiny car robot Eporo – that mimics the behavior of fish when they swim in shoals. The car robot Eporo can move in a fleet without bumping into their traveling companions. Nissan believes that this new technique can be used in future cars as a crash avoidance system.

Last year, Nissan had unveiled BR23C robot car which was again inspired from the behavior of bumblebees in avoiding collisions. So, this is the second time Nissan is looking for inspiration for its designs from the animal world. The Japanese automaker did extensive research as to how large schools of fish can swim in shoals without bumping into each other. It says Eporo imitates three rules of fish movement

  • traveling side by side
  • avoiding crashes
  • keeping close to other members of the group

The car robots also can form the most efficient group formation to maneuver through tight spots by constant communication with each other

The new three-wheeled robot Eporo, which is designed to travel in a group of up to seven vehicles, would be shown off at Ceatec Japanese design fair in Tokyo on October 6. The car robots use laser range finders and ultra-wideband radio to measure the distance between each other as well as other obstacles. The data is constantly shared between the traveling companions via radio, allowing the group to travel smoothly as a “shoal” without colliding into each other.

You can see a preview of the Eporo in the following Japanese video

Eporo stands for Episode O (Zero) Robot. That funny sounding name means zero episodes, as in zero accidents. The Eporo is the first robot car designed to move in a group by sharing its position and other information.? Nissan aims to incorporate this technology into future passenger cars to reduce accidents and traffic jams.

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