Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tokyo Auto show struggles to stay relevant

Tokyo Auto show struggles to stay relevant

Koji Sasahara / AP

A model sits on Suzuki concept car "Q concept" during the Tokyo Motor Show 2011.

By Paul A. Eisenstein

With its bright orange color and scissor doors, Suzuki not is Q concept clearly something you on the go at any time soon expect to see would - if at all.

"Ideal for daily journeys within a radius of about 10 kilometers" described as the fun is to the kind of wild, weird and crazy prototype, which has always been part of the biennial in Tokyo Motor Show.

Once one of the most important events of the automotive world, it was not even clear that it would be a Tokyo Motor Show this year. It began to lose steam in 2009, when most decided foreign automakers to show not their cars at the event. Earthquake and tsunami was complications of affairs the 11 March, to months production cuts in the Japanese automotive industry.

Tokyo Motor Show organizers try ranging all over the world back to convince automakers and automotive journalists on this year's fair. A handful of foreign manufacturers agreed, but the show 2011 was forced, on a much smaller surface area the Japanese industry as a whole move - perhaps symbolic of the problems is.

"This is a very important show and it was important for us to be here," said Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, one of the few foreign brands have become a serious presence on the show this year Tokyo, where it showed a new VW production model, the Passat all track, as well as the cross Coupe concept.

But other automakers were less impressed.

"It is hardly value, to be here," said a Senior Executive of one of the Detroit automakers, issues identified not by name. He was the show just to watch, he said, not to see the need to mount a full display his company.

The reason for Detroit restraint is obvious: while officials is open their market Japanese long afterwards passed have, it has rarely foreign brands, welcomed this year less than 20% of total sales accounted for Japanese.

The largest foreign brand in Japan, VW, controls barely 5 percent of the market. And this market is of itself a fraction.

Car sales in Japan's domestic market, have barely half of its pre-bubble economy high point for the majority of which floated past ten years. You have slowly recovered some dynamism, but some analysts expect sales per fully rebound. Partly reflects a broader shift in the Japanese mindset.

"It frustrates me," Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda to express appropriate horror he gave feels if it looks based on research that indicates that young Japanese buyers are now far less in the possession of a car than in previous generations interest.

To rebuild enthusiasm, manufacturers have a variety of options, such as for example the Suzuki Q concept and the slightly more conventional Nissan PIVO 3 been investigated.

These cars are the latest in a series of micro size vehicles which can navigate the streets of Tokyo and other major cities including Beijing, London, and perhaps even New York.

The cars are designed to leave a small ecological footprint. They are also a challenge, the limits of design. The original PIVO featured a passenger compartment which rode on a separate platform - looks a bit like a 60's era sci-fi flying saucer. Make a U-turn, would the driver simply the platform around and go the other way turning.

The latest PIVO is slightly more conventional, with body and platform, combined, but its wheels can independently control, makes it easy to scoot in even the smallest urban parking lot or turn around in almost seven feet.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says that the PIVO is "not only a show car," added that it is what sees Nissan, to "one more"realistic"EV of the near future."

So called Catalonia one already become dominant niche in the Japanese market and as this year's fair shows, automakers will put even more emphasis on going forward. This is important, when they hope that anywhere close to their current car keep up production levels.

With production largely back to normal after the natural disaster "the biggest problem we face," leading up to the value of the yen remains March, defendant Honda's CEO Takanobu Ito. At just under 75 yen per dollar, it is almost impossible for Japanese manufacturer vehicles from the House holding export to earn profit.

As a result, Honda and Toyota intend, among other things, also more production abroad. Just-in-this week, Toyota revealed that it will start production of Camry sedan for export to South Korea in a factory in Kentucky.

Toyota CEO has not being reviewed from Japanese production base, hollow, so the automaker funds told to - like Honda and others - must find a way home to pick up the slack increase sales.

But whether this will give every reason to Tokyo come for future motor shows, is uncertain.

Add the fact that the relatively open Chinese market has now become the largest national market in the world for automobiles. As a result shows motor of alternating Beijing and Shanghai are increasingly the way of the manufacturer presence - and product Debuts - line, the Tokyo used for known be.

So the extraordinary could some surprise, the last time be, that the Tokyo Motor Show even on the international stage registered.

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