Business | Tokyo Motor Show 2019

Tech and futurism drive iconic car event's appeal

Tokyo Motor Show hopes to attract 1 million visitors with a variety of interactive attractions

by Sayuri Daimon

Staff Writer

The 46th Tokyo Motor Show, slated to kick off on Oct. 24 at Tokyo Big Sight and other areas in Tokyo’s Odaiba district, is set to showcase the latest automotive trends but will also depart from previous editions of the motor show.

This year’s motor show, under the theme of “Open Future,” places an increased focus on the future of our society and its use of rapidly evolving technology in addition to revealing the newest in automotive trends.

“The word ‘open’ means the event will not be limited to showcasing the auto industry. By being open to other industries and collaborating with them, we are trying to demonstrate the mobility-centered society of the future,” said Jun Nagata, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association’s Tokyo Motor Show Committee.

This year, the venue is expanded to include a larger area of Odaiba, featuring a wide range of programs for visitors to enjoy the excitement of cars and future technologies.

A total of 187 companies and organizations from eight countries around the world will participate in the show that will be held through Nov. 4.

The biannual Tokyo Motor Show, however, is at a crossroads, and this year’s event reflects this reality.

In its heyday, the Tokyo Motor Show used to attract many automakers from around the world, such as Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Volkswagen AG, and it used to be a bit of a production when a new car rolled onto the stage. Taking advantage of this occasion, many automakers used to meet with executives of other global companies to conduct business negotiations during the event. But in recent years, such activities have decreased.

Various supercars at Drive Park. | JAPAN AUTO MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
Various supercars at Drive Park. | JAPAN AUTO MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Japan’s car sales remain the third largest in the world — after the U.S. and China — with 527.2 million units sold in 2018, but more and more automakers are prioritizing the Chinese market and its motor shows. The Frankfurt Motor Show, which was held just last month, also failed to attract many carmakers, with only Honda Motor Co. participating from Japan.

This downward trend also shows in the number of visitors. Although the Tokyo Motor Show saw more than 2 million attendees in 1991, the most recent event in 2017 drew just 770,000 people.

This decline has resulted in the transformation of the event into one with a future-focused concept that targets younger generations.

“Unless the Tokyo Motor Show goes through a major paradigm shift, it won’t be able to attract more visitors,” Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. and JAMA chairman, told a news conference ahead of the show.

Toyoda said he hopes to attract 1 million people to the Tokyo event, by making it like a “theme park” where people can get a glimpse of a future lifestyle through various exhibits and attractions that are not limited to the auto industry.

In the Future Expo area, for example, visitors will be able to view and interact with over 100 items, displays and leading technologies provided by companies across various industries.

Honda will display its UNI-CUB alongside a variety of other personal mobility vehicles. People will also have the chance to see a flying car currently under development by NEC Corp.

NEC Corp.'s 'flying car' will be showcased in the Future Expo area. | JAPAN AUTO MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
NEC Corp.’s ‘flying car’ will be showcased in the Future Expo area. | JAPAN AUTO MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Information on hydrogen energy, such as how fuel cell cars work, and space technology will also be on display in the energy of the future area.

The motor show will also host the e-Motorsports Under-18 All Japan Championships, where winners from the under-18 championships from each prefecture will compete against one another for the national title. Another attempt to make the event more appealing to children is a tie-up with KidZania. Children will be able to role-play as an employee at car manufacturers, parts manufacturers and mobile communication companies in the venue set up in the Aomi Exhibition Halls.

At the Open Road area, visitors can experience the near-future through test-drives of micro-mobility vehicles such as the Toyota i-Road and Nissan New Mobility Concept. Three types of personal mobility vehicles are also available for test-drives there.

Concept cars and production vehicles displayed by major automakers are going greener than ever, and most will incorporate some degree of electrification.

Mazda Motor Co. will launch its first battery-electric production car at the show, while the next generation Honda Jazz, known as the Fit in some markets, will see a hybrid drive upgrade.

Nissan Motor Co. also plans to unveil a concept minicar IMk, which is built on an all-new EV platform.

There will also be symposiums on various topics, ranging from zero-emission transport to drones to Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which integrates various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand.

To make it more family friendly, the motor show will be free for high school students or younger children — for the first time in the event’s history.

“The key word for this event is a firsthand experience. We want to make this show a theme park that families, including children, can enjoy,” said Toyoda.


Outline of the 46th Tokyo Motor Show

Venues:
Tokyo Big Sight (Aomi, West and South halls, Mega Web, Symbol Promenade Park, parking lot next to Tokyo Fashion Town [TFT] building)

Duration:
Oct. 24 to Nov. 4

Dates and hours:
Special Invitation Day for Persons with Disabilities: Oct. 24 (Thu.) 2 to 6 p.m.
Preview Day: Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
General Public Days (Weekdays, Saturdays): 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., 2 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 25
General Public Days (Sundays/holiday): 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Opening hours may be changed and entry into the venue may be limited whenever necessary)

Admission:
Special Invitation Day for Persons with Disabilities: Free (requires pre-registration)
Preview Day: ¥3,800 (Limited availability, free for elementary school students and younger, must be accompanied by a parent)
General Public Days: Adults ¥2,000 (¥1,800 for advance ticket; ¥1,000 for day-of ticket after 4 p.m., excluding Sundays and holiday)
High school students and under: Free

For further details:
https://www.tokyo-motorshow.com/en/

Download the PDF of this Tokyo Motor Show 2019 Special