It only comes once every two years, which probably explains why so much of the Tokyo Motor Show is dedicated to the whacky and wonderful concepts concocted by Japan’s usually staid automakers.
Toyota is no exception this year. Joining the simple but sporting S-FR on the Toyota stand will be pair of concepts, one of which takes its inspiration squarely from the past, and the other which is more future-thinking.
The Kikai Concept puts its engineering on display for all the world to see, with minimal bodywork allowing a clear view in at the mechanisms that make up an automobile.
In a clear nod to classic hot rods, the highly polished suspension, open framework and specially presented (but as yet unspecified) four-cylinder engine with gracefully formed chrome manifold, combine with a compact cabin and individual wheel guards for a unique look.
Inside the pod-like cabin a centrally mounted driver's seat faces a slim-rimmed steering wheel and broadly spaced set of analog gauges. Rear passengers are treated to individual seats placed each side of the driver.
An upright windscreen, and door glass that stretches into the roof offer a unique outlook for occupants, as does a small window placed at floor level, allowing a glimpse of the front suspension’s movement in motion.
Another nod to the past is the use of a column shifter for the automatic transmission.
A mid engine layout, driving the rear wheels breaks with the classic formula somewhat, but evokes Toyota’s own sporting past, and the discontinued MR2 range.
Strictly a concept only, (can you imagine getting it to meet pedestrian impact regulations?) the Kikai is offered as Toyota’s way of celebrating the “fine craftsmanship, beauty, simplicity, and fascinating motion” of the automobile.
Toyota’s other concept, the FCV Plus takes a far more futuristic approach to motoring, combining a sleek aerodynamically optimised shape with a hydrogen fuel cell that can also be used to generate electricity for the community when not being driven.
Toyota has located the drivetrain of the FCV Plus between the front wheels, while positioning the hydrogen tanks beneath the rear seats to create a spacious, open cabin.
A hexagonal frame structure at the rear of the car offers light weight and high structural rigidity.
When not being driven, the FCV Plus can be connected to the electric grid to work as a power source within its local community, forming part of the infrastructure.
The fuel cell can draw hydrogen from either the on-board fuel tank, or it can be connected to an external source.
Like the Kikai concept, the FCV Plus isn’t destined for a production future, instead forming Toyota’s vision for a sustainable society powered by the widespread use of hydrogen as an energy source.
Both vehicles will be on display at the Tokyo Motor Show from the 29th of October until the 8th of November.