Motor show to ease way for visitors

by Kaho Shimizu

As automakers struggle with a shrinking domestic market, participants in the 40th Tokyo Motor Show this fall hope to remind people just how much fun it is to get behind the wheel.

“One of the attractions of this year’s show is that visitors can see the latest technologies of automobiles, commercial vehicles, motorcycles and auto parts all in one place,” Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association President Fujio Cho said Thursday.

This year’s show places greater emphasis on visitor participation, such as test-driving vehicles equipped with the latest environment-friendly and safety features.

“We are trying to make the show more entertaining to make all the visitors — families, women and young people — feel the joy of driving,” Cho said.

Among the world’s five major annual motor shows in Geneva, Detroit, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo, the biennial Tokyo Motor Show — to be held Oct. 27 to Nov. 11 at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba Prefecture — will be the only one that features cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles at the same time, he said.

According to the association, the show will feature 520 cars and motorcycles, while 241 companies from 11 countries and a region will be represented.

Among the displays, 71 vehicles will be making their world premieres.

In line with the rising demand for cleaner-running and safer vehicles and consumers’ desire to cushion the impact of rising oil prices, automakers will showcase concept vehicles with advanced environment and safety technologies.

Cho, also the chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., said Japanese manufacturers hold the edge in these technologies and thus hope the show will deepen public understanding.

Participatory events will be especially important to inspire drivers to pry open their wallets and buy new vehicles at a time when car sales are dropping here.

New car sales in Japan have been declining year on year for the past 26 months.

“Automakers are set to introduce many new models later this year. I hope that the show will stimulate the market,” Cho said.

Organizers hope to attract more than 1.51 million visitors to this year’s show, slightly more than the last show two years ago.