Once on the ropes, Tokyo's auto show shows signs of life
The beleaguered Tokyo Motor Show staged a comeback this year.
When its doors closed Dec. 11, the one-time pre-eminent biennial Asian auto exhibition had hosted 842,600 visitors -- up 37 percent from the last show in 2009 and just about back to the pre-financial-crisis level of 2007.
More people attended the 2007 show, but it was seven days longer than this year's 10-day event. The first 10 days of the 2007 show had 852,900 visitors.
The trend bodes well for a show that was nearly canceled in 2009 and has been overshadowed by rival events in China. What went right this time?
-- Like nearly all foreign brands, big-name German makes stayed home in 2009. But this time BMW, Mercedes, Audi and VW were back in force and even had global vehicle introductions.
-- Organizers moved the event closer to downtown Tokyo, winning widespread praise from exhibitors, visitors and journalists.
-- Japan's economy has improved since 2009.
-- Japan's automakers made a serious effort to generate buzz with news-making unveilings. Toyota, for example, unveiled two production cars, a near-production electric vehicle, a hydrogen fuel cell concept and a far-out futuristic fantasy car concept.