Back in March we took a look at some of the best technology and design at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, and as the press days for the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show draw to a close we look at some of the highlights from Japan.
Tokyo is where all the big Japanese manufacturers roll out their blue-sky ideas and there are always a few engineering and technical novelties too. Green technology in particular is growing all the time, so what did manufacturers have to offer us at Tokyo?
Teewave AR.1 carbon-fiber chassis
The use of a carbon monocoque is nothing new in the automotive world, but as the basis of a vehicle designed as a budget sports car its much more important. Previously exclusive to supercars, the light weight construction of the AR.1 shows that with efficient production - such as Gordon Murray's iStream process - these aerospace materials have a place in more humble vehicles, too.
Mazda's i-ELOOP capacitor-based brake regeneration
Mazda i-ELOOP capacitor-based regenerative braking technologyEnlarge Photo
Capacitors are mighty useful - they allow you to store large amounts of electricity quickly and efficiently, ready for whenever you need it. Mazda sees it as the perfect technology for braking regeneration in its future vehicles, rather than heavy, degrading batteries. Kinetic energy captured when braking is stored in the capacitors as electricity, then used to power the car's electrical functions when required.
The Prius that drives itself
Google's take on a self driving car might be the best-known autonomous vehicle, but Toyota clearly knows a thing or two as well. They're so confident in fact that an autonomous Prius isn't just on display at Tokyo - it's being used to ferry people back and forth. Simply climb in the back and let the Prius whisk you from one hall to another. Take it from us - usable autonomous vehicles will be here very, very soon on this evidence.
Honda "Earth Dreams Technology" engines
It may sound like the name of a hippy's hobby shop but Earth Dreams Technology is Honda's answer to the Mazda SkyActiv engine range. It focuses on making small improvements across all areas of the engine to improve fuel efficiency to class-leading levels in every segment. Honda's aim is to reduce Honda's CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2020 compared to the levels in 2000. With improved CVT, downsized engines, AH-AWD technology and more focus on electric cars, 30 percent doesn't look so far away.
Suzuki Regina's retro styling
An acquired taste perhaps, but the Suzuki Regina is probably our car of the show. It's solid proof that designing a small, economical car doesn't mean putting up with a dull, poorly-executed, flair-free shape. We see a hint of Citroën DS and Ami in the curved rump and bluff front and the wheel at each corner stance implies it'd be fun to drive too. A low 1,609 lb curb weight helps it to reach over 72 mpg with a small, gasoline engine.
What do you think of our Tokyo show picks? Let us know in the comment section below. More Tokyo Show coverage can be found here.