Tokyo Motor Show

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Oct. 17 -- Here is a rundown of all known Japanese carmakers’ concepts and premiers at the Tokyo Motor Show:

DAIHATSU

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Muse Not stylish, the trapezoid four-seater car looks primitive but is functional. It sets the theme for Daihatsu: spacious interiors and high-tech gadgets in minicars with engines smaller than 660cc. A square-shaped large front window, combined with a high-positioned seat and an extremely short nose, gives a driver a wide view and a long cabin. A low flat floor without a center tunnel and a door that opens 90 degrees provides easy entrance and egress. For stability, the Muse has 15-inch tires, the largest of any minivehicle.

Audio, climate, and seat-position controls are run from the instrument-panel display. When the screen is hooked to a cellular phone, the driver can access news and e-mail, and can control home appliances.

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FF Ultra Space This 4-seater wagon uses a low flat floor to offer extra room. The cabin gets sunlight and an open view through an all-glass roof and a side window with no center pillar. When the front seats are turned around to face the rear seats, a dual-sided display that extends from underneath a rear seat allows all occupants to enjoy a movie together.

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U4B A 660cc three-cylinder turbo engine powers this egg-shaped, two-door, all-wheel drive urban sporty car concept. A roof, made of five sheets of glass that open like a blind, and the absence of window frames on the doors adds to the stylish look.

UJI HEAVY INDUSTRIES (SUBARU)

WX-01 This three-row-seat, seven-seater touring wagon concept takes Subaru a step beyond its current wagon lineup. This is a cruising performer, rather than the everyday workhorses that Subaru is known for.

The roof slopes down from the C pillar to the D pillar to lessen air resistance and create a compact look. Headlights turn to anticipate the car’s direction, based on turns of the steering wheel and data from the navigation system.

HONDA

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Dual Note Honda seeks to fuse two contradictory values -- cruising performance and environmental friendliness – in this sleek hybrid sports car.

The 3.5-liter V6 engine with electric motors puts out 400 horsepower, while achieving a fuel economy of 42.3 miles per gallon. The Dualnote’s mid-engine powerplant also comes with active torque transfer system for smother, more stable cornering and vehicle stability assist to suppress sideslip.

The interior features high-tech gizmos. The gauge, for example, displays speed, engine rpm and other basic information three-dimensionally. It also notifies the driver of incoming telephone and e-mail messages. The center display incorporates night vision, which uses an infrared camera to detect pedestrians.

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Bulldog As the vehicle tapers to the rear, the rear wheel-wells stand out like the haunches of a metal bulldog. Narrow side windows and slim headlights mounted on the side of the wheel fenders add to the swagger. It comes equipped with two electric motorcycles, each with its own navigation system, which serve as rear seat backs when their seats are folded down. The front seats are assembled around naked metal pipes. The steering wheel is oval, not round.

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S-U-U This three-row, seven-seat minivan will come to market "soon," according to Honda. It is aimed at married couples who have or will have a baby, to distinguish it from the successful, larger StepWGN aimed at families with active children.

Based on an extended platform of the Fit small car, with the fuel tank under the driver’s seat, the S-U-U offers lots of foot room, although it is about 24 inches shorter than the StepWGN in overall length. The new minivan’s cabin is as high as the larger one. Its interior is simple and straightforward, and its low beltline and panoramic cabin provide passengers with an expansive view.

w-i-c From outside, the boxy w-i-c minicar looks like Suzuki’s Lapin minicar. Indeed, both cars have few frills. Honda’s w-i-c (the name stands for "What is a car?"), with all of its edges rounded off, is the study for a planned production model, but Honda declined to give a launch date.

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Unibox Think of it as a huge showcase. The 170-inch long by 74-inch tall transparent vehicle rides on six wheels, with see-through modular panels and a truss frame to create an expansive interior. Storage compartments are provided in the panels and doors. Honda insists that the Unibox can be used, "Any way you please – as a café, for example, or even as a listening room." Among its high-tech touches: A joystick instead of a steering wheel, and a heads-up display for the gauges.

ISUZU

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Z-E-N With its radical looks, the Z-E-N (each letter is pronounced separately) is a new crossover, embodying the fun of an SUV and the functionality of a commercial vehicle into a heavy-duty package.

The side window and doors are designed to resemble a traditional Japanese folding paper fan. The fan breaks in two when the suicide doors open. For more enjoyment, the lower panel of the tailgate slides and lifts up like a Japanese sliding paper door to reveal an outside view.

Who needs chairs in a traditional Japanese room? The front seats stow away to cover the dashboard and the rear seats fold down under the floor. This transforms the Z-E-N into a Japanese room with a reversible tatami straw-mat floor suitable for sitting in meditation.

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Begin Funkybox Based on a tall delivery wagon for commercial use, the Begin Funkybox is a mobile center for hobbies and amusement with extensive use of glass in the side- and door-panels. The concept can be turned into an artist’s studio, a gallery for displaying works of art, or a mobile center for outdoor activities.

MAZDA

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RX-8 Though not the final production model, this is significantly closer to what will be available in showrooms in early 2003 than the concept version seen at January’s Detroit motor show.

It is still a four-door four-seater, with rear freestyle doors hinged at the back to eliminate the center pillar. Gone are the earlier version’s ultra-thin mesh seats, but it still offers adequate leg- and knee-room for four. The sunvisors are mesh to save weight.

Mazda product czar Phil Martens insists horsepower from the new Renesis rotary engine will be sufficient for the RX-8 to assert itself as a true sports car. Martens won’t say how much power the production RX-8 will pack, but the Renesis’ target maximum output is 250 horsepower. Weight is evenly distributed front and rear.

Believing that a sports car’s rear view—as seen by those it leaves in its dust--needs to be as distinctive as its nose, Mazda gave it chrome accents, dual exhaust pipes placed to the left and right, and a rotor-shaped rear fog lamp located low in the center of the bumper.

The rotor motif is found scattered throughout the car, including the open space between the seats and the headrests, on the doorsill covers, and on the shift lever.

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Atenza The production-ready Atenza replaces the Capella in Mazda’s Japan lineup, and will be known as the 6 when it replaces the 626 in overseas markets. The name comes from the Italian for "attention," as in "attention to detail."

The four rear lamps feature a clear lens cover like the headlamps to convey an athletic look. It is powered by Mazda’s 2.3-liter New I-4 engine.

Inside, the large tachometer and speedometer follow the classic round shape with chrome bezel of the RX-7 and Miata/Roadster. Likewise, the steering wheels of both the Atenza and the RX-8 are black with body-color accents. A single push button in the luggage area automatically lowers the rear seats in a 60-40 split, with no need to remove the headrests.

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Secret Hideout Designed by a crew of under-30 designers who hung out with their peers in Tokyo for over a month, the Secret Hideout concept van aims to create private space for young buyers.

It is essentially a tall wagon, with a square, two-box styling and a flat, square hood. To maximize interior space, its windows are upright. However, to soften the tall-boy look, the belt line is unusually high, with narrow vertical side windows, and three small, round opera windows. Overfenders front and rear feature a bicycle-fender motif. Like the RX-8, it has freestyle doors. The tailgate folds vertically at the center as it slides open.

The interior is spare, with a minimalist instrument panel, an old-style three-spoke steering wheel, and front and rear plain bench seats. It offers an extensive and flexible range of shapes, colors, and materials for interior and exterior, allowing considerable customization.

A push button starts the 1.3-liter New I-4 engine; the automatic transmission also is push-button controlled.

MITSUBISHI

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CZ2 This compact concept car offers an early look at the styling of the so-called Z car, the compact that Mitsubishi is developing jointly with DaimlerChrysler AG as a four-door in the Smart series.

The "wave-form dash," which could spread to other Mitsubishi models, extends slightly in the center towards the front bench seat. That seat can be folded flat. Stowage compartments include small-item door trim bags that can be removed for use outside the car and a lunch box in the luggage compartment.

A 1.3-liter engine with variable valve timing, mated to a continuously variable transmission, powers the CZ2.

Interior lighting comes from either a fiber-optic lighting system or via the roof, which uses a quartered switchable light control glass roof that allows the four occupants individually to adjust the light reaching each of them. An LCD monitor gives access to e-mail and the Internet.

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CZ3 Borrowing heavily from the CZ2’s exterior, this rally car concept is powered by a 1.5-liter GDI (gasoline direct injection) intercoooler turbocharged engine, again mated to a CVT. It uses the same full-time all-wheel drive with active yaw control and active center differential that is found on the Lancer Evolution VII.

Metallic touches on the steering wheel match the brushed metal look of the floor, gearshift, and parking brake to enhance the rally image, as do the four-point seatbelts.

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Space Liner This minivan concept has some of the high-tech touches that used to define Mitsubishi, including a fuel-cell powerplant and an automatic lighting system that turns on the interior and foot-well lights at the approach of the driver’s cellular phone.

Yet the interior eschews the hard-edged futuristic look in favor of natural materials, soft lighting, and semi-translucent sun visors, giving a sense of seclusion from the outside world.

The door glazing is fixed above the belt line but opens below it to provide access to the exterior world. By seating four in a vehicle the size of a minivan--at 193 inches long and 73 inches wide on a 116-inch wheelbase--the Space Liner offers a roomy interior. The front seats power-swivel to ease entry and egress, while the rear seat was designed to be sofa-like. The pillarless doors open from the center. The floor is flat.

The drive-by-wire steering unit can shift from right to left side, and stows away along with the instrument panel when the car is parked. The accelerator and brakes are fingertip-controlled.

Safety features include laser-based active cruise control lane-deviation warning systems, and cameras mounted in the tail and rear quarters.

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S.U.P. This SUV concept’s name stands for Sports Utility Pack, and seeks to bridge two disparate aspects of Generation-Y culture: their addiction to the latest electronic gear such as laptops, DVD players, and mobile phones, and their desire to go to inaccessible locations to engage in extreme sports.

As a result, the S.U.P. is designed to be like a go-anywhere backpack. Indeed, custom-designed backpacks are built into the backs of the two front seats, and can be unclipped for use. The translucent door panels are made of the same hard material as hard-sided suitcases, and can be used to store snorkeling gear.

Other offbeat off-road touches include a waterproof socket for CD or DVD player, and a retractable showerhead for washing down after surfing or body boarding.

A GDI engine powers the front wheels through a manual transmission with automated clutch and shifting. A separate motor drives each rear wheel.

NISSAN

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Ideo In this telematics showcase, the display screen stretches the entire width of the instrument panel, 46 inches wide by 11 inches tall. The data it conveys is so complete that you almost could paint the car’s windows black, and still cruise around town relying just on the display screen.

When driving, it uses its 14 CCD cameras to show fore and aft, port and stern. In a parallel-parking simulation, the cameras show the car’s immediate area in all directions, while an image of the car is superimposed on the center of the screen. The effect is astounding: it is as if someone were hovering 11 yards above the car with a camera, showing the car’s exact movements as it slides in between two other parked cars.

A driving simulation showed how driving the ideo could be like surfing the net. As the screen showed buildings passing to the left and right, numbers were superimposed on certain buildings. For example, a numeral "3" might appear marked on a building to your left. At a stoplight, the driver could click on the "3," using steering wheel mounted buttons, and discover that an Italian restaurant was located in the otherwise unmarked building. Another click could bring up the restaurant’s menu, and further clicks could determine whether a table was available for dinner that evening.

The front display also can be broken up into several screens. The front passenger then can search for certain information on the part of the screen in front of him, and then after finding it, transfer the information to the driver’s side.

Separate 15-inch screens for the rear passengers are available on the back of the two front seats.

To keep the driver in the best position for viewing the screen, the seats are fixed to the floor and adjust only up or down. The pedals and steering wheel move can be adjusted forward and back to match the driver’s height. The top of the steering wheel is cut away for improved screen visibility.

2003IAnother telematics concept car, this one uses the current Primera as its shell, rather than a custom-designed model like the ideo. The display screen is not as large: only 14 inches by 8 inches.

On the 2003I’s screen, Nissan shows its thinking about how to convey information to the driver. The system is designed to limit the amount of information with which it inundates the driver, adjusting the display to the four most significant items based on the driver’s identification, the weather conditions, the time of day, and where the car is. For example, if the driver has indicated a preference for a certain brand of gasoline and rainy weather was slowing traffic, the system might compare the amount of fuel left, current fuel usage, and the distance to gas stations selling that brand, and move that data up the priority ranking.

The control buttons on the steering wheel are modeled after the joystick-like circular controls on cell phones. The system also has a voice navigation function, but that will be turned off at the show due to the noise level at the show.

As the name indicates, Nissan is hoping that at least some of the aspects of the system will be available commercially by 2003.

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Mm: The mm is an almost-90 percent complete production version of the replacement for Nissan’s March, known as the Micra in Europe. (The e-mm, shown in Frankfurt, was about 80 percent complete.)

Nissan has high hopes for the new March, which will replace a 10-year-old model in Japan in February 2002. It will go on sale in Europe in late 2002. It will take on the Toyota Vitz and Honda Life, known as the Jazz in Europe, two of the hottest cars in Japan today.

Indeed, with the March sedan and the Chapo tall wagon (shown in Geneva) in the 1.0- to 1.3-liter class plus the new Nissan minivehicle in the sub-600cc class, Nissan will finally have some competitive offerings in the two categories which together accounted for nearly 60 percent of all vehicles sold in Japan last year.

Nissan expects "significant improvement" in its Japanese market share in the fiscal year starting next April 1 from the new March, said Patrick Pelata, Nissan executive vice president for corporate and product planning.

While only 145.5 inches long, the concept mm seats four adults comfortably. The low waistline and the ratio of glass to body follow the March’s design heritage. The parking lights bubble up from the wheel arches, doubling as front-end indicators for the driver, while the turn signals are integrated into the grille.

The keyless entry system uses sensors to detect the arrival of the user bearing the "portable control unit." Once that unit is inside the car, the car starts by turning a main switch. "Insert key" no longer applies.

The mm also shows off an electronic four-wheel drive system that uses an electric motor to turn the rear wheels when the front wheels slip.

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Fairlady Z After what Pelata calls "hundreds of changes" since the concept was first shown at the Detroit motor show, the version shown in Tokyo is the final production version. The front end is substantially different, especially the lower grill and the headlamps, but the car’s profile is roughly the same.

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Moco Today, 24 percent of Nissan’s Japanese customers also own a minivehicle, a car with an engine smaller than 660cc. Since Nissan has not made or sold minis, that meant that a quarter of its buyers were buying a competitor’s product.

The Moco is the first look at Nissan’s first entry in the mini segment, built for it by Suzuki Motor Corp. It will go on sale in the spring of 2002 and, Nissan insists, be profitable for the company. Nissan says that the front face and rear of the car are significantly different than the Suzuki version, which has not been launched yet. On the inside, Nissan chose the materials, but had little say into the design and layout.

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Kino This six-seater minivan concept aims to "reproduce the feeling of your house, not your car, by deleting completely any feeling of speed or aggressiveness," said Stephane Schwarz, chief designer at Nissan Design Europe GmbH.

Although designed by Nissan’s European studio, the Kino incorporates more Japanese styling touches than the concepts styled in Japan. These include natural materials for the interior, including cork walls, and covers over the instrument panel that slide outwards to reveal three separate display screens when driving, or partially close to show only one entertainment screen when parked.

In drive mode, the screen in front of the driver gives the speed and other gauge-related data, while the one in the center acts as a navigation-system screen. The one in front of the front passenger can supply information about places in the area, or can act as a monitor for children in the rear seats.

Just as a Japanese house is adept at creating space through the use of sliding doors and stowable futon bedding, the Kino abounds in ways to create space. There are cabinets built into the door trim panels. On both sides of the roof are storage compartments that can be opened and closed from outside the vehicle. Each seat occupant can pull out a 3.5-inch vertical screen for viewing and accessing e-mail. What at first appear to be cupholders by each seat in fact are a kind of "socket" which can hold cups, drink warmers, a flower vase, video game remote controls, or personal digital assistants.

To create more space, two seats can be stowed under the instrument panel. When parked, the two front seats can be turned to face the rear and the two middle-row seats stowed. A hinged double DVD screen, with one side facing the front and the other the rear, drops out of the ceiling, so all can watch, while two tables can be taken out from the center console and moved on the floor rails to the center of the Kino.

The rear gate opens in a compact fashion well suited for Japan’s tight parking spaces. First the glass window pulls out slightly then swings up, still perpendicular to the ground. Then the gate follows it upward. The person opening the rear can stand barely a foot away from the car and never have to move out of the way of the door. The rear bumper also can be lowered and used as a step if necessary.

The driver’s side has three doors, with the rear one being a rear-hinged center-opening door to aid entrance and egress. On the passenger side, the rear door is a sliding one, with no B-pillar.

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Nails This funky two-seater, with a pickup-like bed but the dimensions of a city car, is Nissan’s styling splash of the show. The styling comes from placing an A-shaped cabin frame on a low floor that runs from the cabin along the length of the bed. Large wheels and dent-resistant body panels suggest a work vehicle, but the canvas-like partition separating the cabin from the bed indicate that the Nails is more convenient than rugged.

The "comb-frame" seat can slide apart, seating two on park bench-like seat and back, or together to form a solid seat.

SUZUKI

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Covie The Covie (for "communications vehicle") is an egg-shaped, two-seater high-tech compact model. An advanced navigation system linked to a local area network (LAN) or the Internet allows the driver to download information from a home PC, control home appliances, receive e-mail, and access a home intercom to talk to a visitor. Electrically powered and designed with outside space for golf bags, the concept can double as a golf cart.

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MRwagon Pushing the front window and A-pillar forward gives this wagon a roomy cabin and luggage space. The concept, close to a production model, aims to provide a living room-like atmosphere with a combination of red-colored fabric seats and a metallic instrument panel.

Lapin Looking like a green box on wheels, the Lapin, which means "rabbit" in French, aims for a fairy-tale ambience. This concept seeks to avoid conventionality as much as possible, with its whitish interiors, a bench seat in striking green, a transparent steering wheel, and a digital speed gauge in a green plastic bar. Its rabbit-ear logo is emblazoned repeatedly in the cabin.

TOYOTA

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FXS The FSX (for "Future Experimental Sports") is a two-seater sports car, with four-point seatbelts, a sculpted side and rear—and a Batmobile nose.

Power comes from a 4.3-liter V-8 engine based on the one in the Celsior, known as the Lexus LS 430 in the United States, but the six-speed manual transmission is new, as is the platform and suspension.

Toyota is not releasing performance specs for the show model, but one engineer admitted that they would like to pump the output up to 400 kW, roughly 550 horsepower. The gauges, visible through a steering wheel with two spokes at 4:00 and 8:00, include a digital speedometer and analog tachometer. Shift buttons are located on the steering wheel.

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Voltz Sister model to the Pontiac Vibe, the Voltz is the concept-car version of the Toyota Matrix that will be built on the new Corolla platform at Nummi, the GM-Toyota joint venture in Fremont, Calif.

A sport-utility wagon, it is packed with utilitarian touches such as interior tie-down hooks, a glass hatch that opens independently of the rear gate, and fold-flat rear seats. Options include a sliding bicycle rack that attaches inside the cargo area, and a rear table-setup designed for tailgate parties. It also has a combination compact-disc/minidisk player.

The roof’s styling makes it appear to taper off sharply towards the rear. In fact, it is nearly flat, the effect made possible by clever use of the roof rack, thus preserving interior headroom and storage space.

The version here has a few show-car touches, such as 18-inch tires, a chrome-and-black interior, an enlarged exhaust pipe—and right-hand drive for the Japanese viewing public. The Altezza-style brushed-aluminum pedals, however, could be an option in the production version.

It is powered by the same 1.8-liter engine found in the Celica, mated in this version to a six-speed manual transmission. Expect an automatic in the production version.

Ist Pronounced "east," the ist five-door hatchback is based on the Vitz platform, which already has produced the Vitz/Yaris, the Funcargo/Yaris Verso, the Platz/Echo, and the bB. The name is taken from the suffix referring to someone who does something, as in artist or bicyclist. It looks production-ready, but Toyota says it wants to judge audience reaction at the show before giving the ist the go-ahead.

To appeal to active consumers, the ist has an SUV’s look and a wagon’s practicality. The former comes in part from the large, 17-inch tires, compared to the 13" and 14" tires on the Vitz. For the latter, it offers considerable storage space both above and below the floor.

The wheelbase is the same size as the Vitz’, but the ist is 9.8 inches longer and 1.2 inch wider. It also has a number of upmarket touches in its interior, including gauges centered on the dimpled-plastic instrument panel, rather than right in front of the driver, and a combination compact disk-minidisk player.

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DMT This two-seater panel van concept is for carrying stuff, not people. The "stuff," however, is more likely to be an office than a load of lumber. Officially there are no current plans to put the DMT into production.

Toyota divided the DMT (for "Dual Mode Traveler") into two parts with no walk through between. The driver’s area is the "drive mode," while the rear compartment is the "stay mode." In one configuration, three horizontal panels line each of the side and rear walls of the rear section. The panels are held in place with four screws each, make it easy to remove and reconfigure the arrangement. The floor is flat throughout. Portable desks or other features can be added as the user chooses.

The floor in the driver’s compartment is flat and high, with the seats low to the floor and the engine underneath. The pedals are set well away from the seats so that the legroom is ample; still, a driver who is used to sitting on the floor might be most at ease behind the wheel. Five monitors are spread across the width of the instrument panel, providing navigation and other Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) features.

Built on the Estima platform, the DMT’s engineers had planned to use a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, but switched to a 2.4-liter powerplant to make the show deadlines. A diesel also would fit.

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WiLL VC The latest model in the WiLL lineup to come from Toyota’s youth-oriented Virtual Venture Co., the VC arrives as the first model departs. Toyota will stop building the single female-oriented WiLL Vi, first shown at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show, in December, after it fell far short of sales goals. So the VC, aimed at couples and new families in their 20s and 30s, will join the male-oriented VS.

The VC has a few styling quirks, but is not nearly as funky as the Vi. The defining exterior touches are the four headlamps stacked vertically on the front wheel arches.

Styling and telematics rule the interior. The center console is in a circular shape exactly the same size as the steering wheel. Between the two, a semi-circle of gauges sits on the instrument panel, higher and more accessible to the driver’s line of sight.

The car’s "cyber-capsule" theme is focussed on its G-Book-linked instrument display. Gazoo, Toyota’s e-retailing venture, will launch G-Book in 2002. It will send information either directly to the car or over the internet to PCs, mobile phones, and other receivers. Users can download the information they want, from navigation information to karaoke music, onto memory cards and then load the cards into the VC’s terminal. Moreover, the VC’s Netcare Service will monitor the car’s systems. If it detects, say, a problem with the brakes, it alerts the driver that a problem exists, and gives directions to the nearest Toyota dealer.

Built on the Vitz platform, the VC is 3.5 inches longer and 0.4 inch wider than the Vitz. It is powered by a 1.3 liter four-cylinder engine.

FCHV-5 This fuel-cell hybrid vehicle differs from the previously shown FCHV-4 in that it uses clean hydrocarbon fuel (CHF), a prototype sulfur-free fuel being developed by ExxonMobil in conjunction with research by Toyota and General Motors.

The goal is to find a fuel that can be developed from coal, petroleum, methanol, or other carbon-based sources, but which can be delivered by the existing infrastructure.

FCHV-4 had four tanks of compressed hydrogen fuel; FCHV-5 has a single tank for CHF located in front of the reformer. The model that will be on display is one of only two built by Toyota.

Non-Japanese makers

BMW plans to hold the world debut of its Mini Cooper S; Japan in recent years has been a bigger market for the Mini than England.

GENERAL MOTORS plans to show several new concepts ahead of the show, rather than at the show itself. Those are likely to be follow-ups to the Chevrolet Cruze, formerly known as the YGM-1, which was designed by GM’s Holden Ltd. Australian unit on a Suzuki platform. Suzuki is building the Cruze at a plant in Japan. GM has spoken before about a YGM-2 and YGM-3. Other fruits of GM’s alliances with Suzuki, Fuji Heavy, and Isuzu also could be shown before the show, thus avoiding the question of whose stand at the show displays the concept.

HYUNDAI will show its TB 1.3-liter, five-seater compact concept.

MERCEDES will show its F400 Carving research vehicle, packed with dynamic chassis technologies such as wheel camber control. Its Smart unit will debut the production Smart K, a Smart car narrowed to qualify for tax breaks as a Japanese keijidosha, or minicar.

VOLKSWAGEN will show a concept study of a mid-engine sportscar powered by the W-12 engine used in the D-1 luxury car. The car, penned by Italdesign, is a "serious" candidate for production in the range of 50 to 150 units a year, according to a VW source.

You can reach James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com

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