TOYOTA has realised there’s a problem.
Japan has an ageing population. All the kids have stopped having sex, presumably because they’re too busy pleasuring themselves on their smartphones.
But here’s the solution.
Three electric mobility devices for different stages of life.
The Concept-i (that’s the big one with four wheels) is for the yoof.
That’s a self-driving talking car that glows like a sunbed shop in Brentwood.
It even senses when you’re stressed and will try to calm you down. I know, I know. That sounds like utter BS but that’s what they tell me.
The Concept-i RIDE is a two-seater aimed at car-share schemes and the disabled.
It has easy-access gullwing doors, joystick controls and room for a wheelchair in the back.
Then there’s Concept-i WALK for the elderly to scoot to the shops.
The three-wheeler can rotate on the spot and has a 12-mile range. At least the last two sound plausible.
Now for some wacky stuff.
Suzuki rolled out the adorably mad e-SURVIVOR, a space-age buggy for the year 2117 with see-through doors, blue light-up wheels and a hologram globe in the centre console.
But do you know the craziest thing of all? It had an actual steering wheel.
Yep, 100 years from now Suzuki thinks we will still be physically driving our electric Jimny. Hurrah.
And then there’s the mini-baygo, sorry, the electric micro box van that can double in size in seconds by pulling the body out sideways like a drawer. Top speed 30mph, range 30 miles. Yours for 4,900,000 yen (£32,000).
Another concept that caught my eye was the Yamaha Cross Hub pick-up with two motorbikes in the back. Nothing daft about that at all.
The Yamaha Cross Hub[/caption]
Except for the four-seat diamond-shape cab with the driver front middle. Thank you for reading.
Saturday IT’S a-me, Mario! Whoo-hoo! Baby Luigi number not one.
Arrive in Tokyo, drop bags at hotel, go straight on two-hour Mario Kart tour – whizzing down normal city streets, dodging fire trucks and taxis but oddly no bananas. It was either this or an open-top bus tour. Please don’t write in to complain that I’m winging it.
Technically, I’m on a day off.
Sunday TWO hours north of Tokyo is Twin Ring Motegi race track (you have probably driven it on Gran Turismo and Forza).
It is also home to the Honda museum, three floors full of beautiful cars and bikes, as well as Asimo the robot and his older brother and sisteroids.
Founder Soichiro Honda put a small motor on his wife’s bicycle back in 1946. Today, Honda is the world’s biggest engine maker.
Monday YOU cannot go to Japan and not drive a Kei car. Them’s the rules.
Other rules state these micro cars must be under 3.4m long and 1.48m wide – with an engine no bigger than 660c.
Owners get tax savings. This little roller skate was tooled up with a seven-speed paddle shift, 9in touchscreen, big comfy chairs and electric sliding doors.
It will do 70mpg all day long. Price: £12,600. Want. One in three cars sold in Japan are Kei cars.
Tuesday BY day, Tatsumi is an unassuming rest area on the Tokyo express highway. By night, it is a mecca for Japanese car culture – and the start line for midnight racers looking for playmates. It’s just like a scene from Fast & Furious.
We rocked up in the 169mph Honda Civic Type R – which is now exported to Japan from Swindon. Whoop. Whoop. And the answer to your question is: “Yes, it would have been rude not to.”
TOKYO has melted my cranial cabinet. It’s full of cuddle cafes, dodgy diners (poisonous Fugu fish, anyone?) . . . and 39million Mr Miyagis. Imagine being dropped in a beehive – that’s the subway. But at least some things are familiar here.
They drive on the left and steer from the right – so testing this second-gen Nissan Leaf was a doddle.
First, the good news. The tech on the new 40kW Leaf is brilliant, particularly the one-pedal “e-pedal” mode. Press it on-and-off like a Scalextric controller to speed up or brake. Much fun.
The all-electric Leaf can also drive itself in single-lane highway traffic (that’s steer, accelerate and brake) and park itself at the touch of a button (no hands, no feet), if you really, really can’t park.
But the big win is that 40kW battery with its 180-mile real-world range. That’s much more viable day-to-day than the old 30kW car.
A 60kW battery will follow. Other things to note. The boot is huge – seriously impressive – and it has CarPlay and Bose sound. This CO2 zero eco hero could be your main family car.
As for the bad news? Let’s just say it looks a bit . . . bleurgh. Too vanilla. It should be futuristic. Maybe your mum was right, beauty comes from within.
Out February from £24,000 (inc grant).