DETROIT, MI – We may never see some of it stateside, but the wild concept cars Toyota Motor Co. plans to unveil at the Tokyo Motor Show illustrate the technical and design ambitions of the company.
And, sometimes, these concepts do make it to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show.
In addition to world premiers of three concepts and the Japanese premier of a fourth, Toyota will be revealing a tiny robot companion named Kirobo Mini in Tokyo later this month.
Of the cars, there is a compact SUV that Toyota aims to get into production soon, a fun-to-drive sports car that would not be a far-fetched production model, a hot-rod like concept car that looks like it was turned inside out and a hydrogen fuel cell concept that looks like it was imagined by the creators of Back to the Future when they were envisioning the year 2015.
The gallery above has photos of all four concept cars and the little robot.
Here’s some more info on the lot:
Toyota S-FR (world premiere)
Toyota says the SF-R is a homage to its fun-to-drive lightweight cars. The Toyota Supra comes tom mind.
It’s being pitched as an entry-level model, a car that is simple and light yet with some performance capability. The SF-R, which seats four, has a six-speed, manual transmission. Toyota hasn’t released engine specs.
Toyota Kikai concept (world premiere)
This is the inside-out car. Toyota says it was designed to “explore and emphasize the fundamental appeal of machines: their fine craftsmanship, their beauty, simplicity, and their fascinating motion.”
In addition to the normally hidden mechanical parts being in full display, Toyota says the Kikai concept has analog meters and switches to “offer an engaging dialog with the machinery.”
There is a window at the driver’s feet so that the movements of the tires and suspension, along with the rushing road beneath, can all be taken in as part of what Toyota calls a new driving sensation. The driver is placed at the center of the car, and there are three passenger seats in a triangular layout. Toyota did not give any drivetrian details.
Toyota FCV Plus concept (world premiere)
This shows Toyota’s latest development in hydrogen fuel cell technology, which the Japanese automaker calls a promising future energy source. Compressed hydrogen can be drawn from a wide range of raw materials, and has a higher density than electricity, Toyota argues.
With the FCV Plus concept, Toyota has created a car that can actually generate electricity from hydrogen stored outside of the vehicle, in addition to drawing power from its own hydrogen tank. That makes the FCV Plus its own electric power source.
Toyota sees it as sharing its power generation with the local infrastructure in communities when it’s not being driven. A fuel cell stack is mounted between the front tires, while the hydrogen tank is hidden behind the rear seat.
Toyota C-HR Concept (Japan premiere)
This appears to be Toyota’s ambition for the compact SUV segment, which has been on fire as of late. Toyota said it hopes to make the C-HR concept, which was first unveiled in Paris in 2014, and refined in Frankfurt earlier this year, a production-ready model in time for the Geneva auto show in March 2016.
The C-HR concept combines a brisk driving style with environmental performance (it’s a hybrid), Toyota says. The car would fit five passengers. Drive train details weren’t released.
Kirobo Mini (world premiere)
This could be cute. Or terrifing. But judging by its diminutive stature, the Kirobo Mini robot Toyota is bringing to the Tokyo show will probably be adorable. Toyota is calling it a “communication partner.” It’s only about four inches tall. “While its form may differ from that of the ultimate companion (the automobile), Kirobo Mini was created to be able to accompany its owners everywhere and communicate with them in a meaningful way,” Toyota says in a release. “Our aim is for Kirobo Mini to communicate with people through expressions and gestures, bringing smiles to their faces through daily exchanges that chart the course of an evolving relationship.”
The Tokyo Motor Show is Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, with press preview days Oct. 28 & 29.