Facing falling sales in their home market, Japanese car makers are trying all kinds of strange and innovative ideas to increase interest among drivers at the Tokyo Motor Show which opens this week. Toyota’s President Katsuaki Watanabe turned up in the i-Real, a single seater three-wheeler which looks like a high-tech armchair and is designed to be driven along pavements as well as streets. He explained that its has a short wheelbase while moving at slow speeds to manoeuvre around pedestrians which lengthens at higher speed for a lower centre of gravity and more stability.
Among Nissan’s offerings was the Pivo, an egg-shaped electric concept car with a rotating cabin and wheels that can turn 90 degrees should you want to drive sideways. Looking for new markets, Nissan and Renault’s chief executive Carlos Ghosn announced plans for a car costing just 2,000 euros to be developed and sold in India with a local partner.
It will have a conventional steel body, unlike Honda’s Puyo concept car which is covered in soft, spongy silicone so that pedestrians do not get hurt in a slow speed collision. Honda also said it gives it “the feel of an adorable pet.” Creating cute cars the manufacturers are perhaps hoping to rekindle interest among the young in Japan who are buying fewer vehicles.