Japan Mobility Show 2023 Round-UpOctober 30, 2023
This year’s Japan Mobility Show saw some exciting highlights from Toyota, Mazda, Honda and more! There’s no sense beating around the bush with a long preamble– let’s jump right into this round-up!
Toyota FT-Se and FT-3e Concepts
Those who have been following Toyota long enough might remember their FT-1 concept from the previous decade, correctly believed to be the return of the Supra nameplate. With seemingly intense longing for the return of Toyota’s MR2 mid-engine sports car, the FT-Se may just be it.
As the “e” suggests, it is all-electric; though, the FT-Se is said to incorporate “the expertise gained in Toyota GAZOO Racing’s efforts to make ever-better cars through motorsports.” Of course, there are zero other indications as to what may be powering this new-age sports car, but it hits all the right notes style-wise. It sits low and wide, and appears aerodynamically sharp. A fully-digital cockpit is par for the course, appearing driver-centric and, given its sports car aim, providing high visibility.
If you go back and look at the FT-1, it’s not too far off from what the Supra inevitably became. So while the FT-Se is subject to change, we might just see it arrive in a similar package– and we sure hope the orange paint stays.
A related concept is the FT-3e, a next-gen battery-electric vehicle (BEV) that… well, we also don’t have much info on. Perhaps it’s slated to be a continuation of the bZ (“Beyond Zero”) line of EVs, of which there is currently one entry, the bZ4X. The exterior is a bit sharper with simplistic surfaces, contrasted by digital displays seen on the lower side profile. It was showcased alongside the FT-Se during Toyota’s press briefing.
Lexus LF-ZC and LF-ZL Concepts
It’s no secret that Toyota’s luxury sibling Lexus is pushing ahead in their electrification efforts, rolling up to the Japan Mobility Show with two concepts: the LF-ZC and LF-ZL.
The ZC (“Zero-emission Catalyst”) is part of the brand’s future BEV offerings, slated to arrive in production form in 2026, part of their strategy to being an electric brand by 2035. Following the trends of EV concepts, it’s sleek, low and edgy. The drivetrain will feature DIRECT4 all-wheel drive, joined by their “steer-by-wire” system which we had a chance to test out during our RZ 450e First Drive. The interior is, you guessed it, digital, using AI tech for voice recognition and other features. Front occupants sit in a self-described low and forward position, complimented by a flat floor design giving way to a sensation of spaciousness– well, as we’re told.
The LF-ZC is a concept that tries to preface a very real product making its way into production. The LF-ZL is a little different. Serving as a concept of the brand’s more distant future, the ZL tries to preview what a future electrified Lexus flagship might be.
The design is very much Lexus, with many design elements similar to those found on the ZC. The big thing here is the Arene OS, a software system that “learns and anticipates the driver’s needs.” For example, the vehicle’s onboard sensors take in data from the vehicle’s surroundings, able to give the driver information pertinent to points of interest. The takeaway here is less what the LF-ZL physically stands as, but more what it represents for the Lexus brand moving forward– electric, connected, digitized driving.
Mazda ICONIC SP Concept
Every time Mazda dangles a concept sports car in front of enthusiasts faces, the gut reaction is usually “is this a new RX-7?” The ICONIC SP isn’t quite a modern RX, but it does fulfill the prescription in one key way.
Yes, the ICONIC SP uses a rotary engine. The catch is that this two-rotor unit is not the primary source of power delivery. Instead, it’s implied that this engine serves the role of a generator, charging up batteries for the electric drive unit– a system similar to Mazda’s recent MX-30 R-EV. On top of that, the engine can burn a variety of fuels, including hydrogen, thus generating electricity with carbon-neutral results.
The SP is about 165-inches long, making it just a bit longer than the current MX-5 Miata (154 inches), though shorter than the last RX-8 (about 176-inches) and the venerable RX-7 FD (about 169-inches). It rides on a short wheelbase of 102-inches, rocking a near 50:50 weight distribution and a low center of gravity– key characteristics of the RX-7 line. Total system output is about 365 horsepower with a weight of 3,197-lbs, giving it a pretty spirited power-to-weight ratio.
The ICONIC SP is an interesting take on the rotary sports car– one that we hope to see more of in the future, perhaps wearing ‘RX’ ID.
Honda Prelude Concept and e-Bikes
Honda’s current lineup may be somewhat lacking a variety of sport models, but what they do offer– Civic and the Civic Type R, namely– is pretty dang good. It wasn’t that long ago when Honda offered sporty coupe models of the Civic and the Accord. There was the S2000, the Integra (turned Acura product then and now), and the Prelude.
The Prelude is back, this time a hybrid-electric sports coupe with a modern, LED-enlightened edge. And that’s… about all we know for sure, as powertrain details have been sparse. But all the important ingredients are there, and now may just be the best time for the Prelude to return. A two-door model with modern style and amenities would fill a hole left by Honda’s disappearing coupes.
We know Honda is interested in crafting modern sports models, and their recent efforts have shown us that they’re quite capable at doing so. We just hope that means the Prelude returns to the lineup soon.
And in an interesting development, Honda debuted their electric mountain bike concept. The frame is thin-walled cast aluminum, with the battery and wiring concealed within. No word on weight, but we assume it’ll be a tad hefty considering the internalized components; however, that’s more than made up for by the electric drive assist, the main and obvious appeal of an e-bike. With Honda’s prevalence in the motorcycle industry, we suspect many of the lessons they’ve learned in that space will translate over into their e-bike portfolio.
Nissan Hyper Force Concept
The name “Hyper Force” sounds like a group of teenage superheroes or cybernetically-enhanced ninjas taking on harrowing missions every saturday morning. And that isn’t too far off, considering the Hyper Force is one of five “Hyper” concepts revealed each week leading up to the Japan Mobility Show. While the Hyper Punk, Adventure, Tourer and Urban are cool in their own right, the leader of this eclectic group of battery-electric concepts may just be the Hyper Force.
One look at it and you might think it’s an all-electric GT-R and, well, that also isn’t too far off. Some of the design elements– the long hood and short rear deck, accented by the circular taillights and wide wing– certainly pay tribute to the GT-R lineage. The solid state battery and e-4ORCE all-wheel drive system can put out a combined 1000 kW of power, translating to about 1340 HP. The body is light, using carbon elements throughout to save weight and optimize balance, accented by NISMO-backed aero elements. The interior is equally cyberpunk, with ambient lighting and digitized elements joined by a yoke-style steering wheel.
The Hyper Force is said to be designed for “racing enthusiasts and gamers” who yearn for the thrills of track driving, but are conscious of the environment. Could this be the evolution of Nissan’s ‘Godzilla’ into ‘Mecha Godzilla’ or, in real terms, the electric future of the GT-R? Only time will tell.