In a significant display of their commitment to remaining major players in the global automotive industry, Japanese carmakers have orchestrated their first motor show in four years. The newly christened Japan Mobility Show serves as a strategic response to shifting dynamics, including Japan’s potential loss of its position as the world’s top car exporter to China and a potential drop to the third-largest economy, falling behind Germany. As their domestic market contracts and parts of Europe and the US embrace electric vehicles (EVs) at an accelerated pace, manufacturers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. face mounting pressure to steer away from internal combustion engines.
At the event, Mazda CEO Masahiro Moro addressed Japan’s gradual embrace of electrification compared to global counterparts, asserting that there’s ample time to catch up. He said he believes in the need for a diverse array of solutions that cater to individual customer preferences. Battery-electric vehicles constituted merely 1.5% of new car sales in Japan in 2022, emphasizing the room for growth.
Honda and GM’s EV Pivot
Honda’s CEO, Toshihiro Mibe, discloses a shift in the company’s plans to develop affordable EVs in collaboration with General Motors (GM). Business dynamics, cost challenges, and limited cruising ranges have prompted Honda to shelve the development of affordable EVs. Their initial objective, declared in April the previous year, was to manufacture EVs priced below GM’s projected $30,000 Chevrolet Equinox and similar Honda offerings. By partnering, GM and Honda aimed to expedite the reduction of battery costs and produce competitive EVs vis-à-vis market leaders like Tesla Inc. and BYD.
Lexus Explores Charging Infrastructure
Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, seeks to leverage Japan as a testbed for enhancing EV adoption, particularly concerning charging infrastructure. The goal is to enhance the overall battery EV (BEV) experience by collaborating with Japanese dealer networks and piloting various services and experiences.
Nissan’s Alliance Strategy for EV Transition
Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida emphasizes the challenges of transitioning to EVs independently. To mitigate the costs involved, Nissan intends to maximize its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, knowing that significant investments will be essential. In July, Nissan announced an investment of up to €600 million ($635 million) in Renault’s EV unit, Ampere. Mitsubishi Motors has also committed €200 million to the initiative.
Nissan’s Innovative “Hyper Force” Concept
Nissan introduces innovative electric vehicle concepts, including the “Hyper Force,” which integrates virtual reality features allowing drivers to engage in gaming while the vehicle is stationary. These concepts represent a major technological advancement.
BYD’s Foray into Japan
Chinese carmaker BYD is making inroads into the Japanese market with its all-electric Atto-3 SUV and Dolphin hatchback. The Seal electric sedan is set to join their lineup next spring, as BYD seeks to expand its global footprint, even in markets where domestic brands dominate.
Yamaha’s Unique Three-Wheeler
Yamaha unveils the Tricera, an open-topped three-wheeler EV under its “Urban Exciting Mobility” concept. The vehicle represents a significant leap forward in EV design, reflecting advancements over the years.
Lexus Leading Toyota’s EV Charge
Lexus’ concept LF-ZC takes center stage in Toyota’s electric vehicle campaign, poised to challenge Tesla and BYD. This sleek EV, slated for release in 2026, capitalizes on Toyota’s next-generation battery platform, promising extended range and faster charging. Equipped with Toyota’s forthcoming Arene software, the car boasts intuitive entertainment and monitoring systems, alongside a next-generation high-performance lithium-ion battery offering an impressive 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of range and 20-minute charging.
Honda’s Versatile Future: Air, Sea, and Space
Honda showcases an electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, an avatar robot, and its HondaJet business plane at the show. CEO Toshihiro Mibe envisions a future where Honda provides mobility solutions for various terrains, including ground, sea, air, and outer space.
Subaru’s EV Concepts: Motorsports and Flying Cars
Subaru unveils a motorsports EV concept and a flying car that has undergone preliminary tests. Subaru is eager to assess consumer acceptance and adaptation to these novel modes of transportation.
Mercedes-Benz’s Expanding EV Sales
Mercedes-Benz Japan’s CEO, Kintaro Ueno, expresses optimism about doubling EV sales in Japan this year, driven by the launch of revamped GLE SUVs. The company considers installing fast chargers in Japan to facilitate efficient EV charging.
Mazda’s Electric Hybrid Prototype
Mazda unveils a concept sports car that integrates the company’s rotary engine technology in a hybrid powertrain with plug-in charging capability. The vehicle is positioned for versatile use, from daily commuting to racetrack adventures.
Toyota’s Electric Future
Toyota CEO Koji Sato presents a series of battery-based concept cars that define the company’s future direction. These concepts, including sports cars, SUVs, and modular pickup trucks, offer a glimpse of Toyota’s EV roadmap, slated for rollout in 2026. Toyota’s innovative Arene software enhances user experience, enabling convenient food ordering and entertainment access.
The Japan Mobility Show provides an insightful window into the transformation of the Japanese automotive industry as it navigates the electrified future. With a range of exciting concepts and strategies, Japan’s carmakers are actively embracing the global shift toward electric mobility, setting the stage for a dynamic and competitive EV landscape.