Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Tokyo Motor Show

I will be attending the first media day (Press Day Nov 20th) of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show as a guest of Nissan which means I will have a 48 hour advance notice of some of the more compelling details that will start coming out when the show officially opens on the 22nd of November. There will (as always) be an NDA required to be part of the festivities but now you know how all these writers can post articles literally minutes after new announcements of products being introduced.

Either way; being able to see some of the possible newer EVs (guessing will see mostly non-operating prototypes) might help clear up the EV product map for the future and better gauge other manufacturer's depth of commitment to the technology.  After nearly 3 years, several major manufacturers have very little or nothing towards the technology with a few like Toyota and Honda who have seemingly already shelved EVs for something different involving Hydrogen... *sigh*

Well for those of us (which means YOU!) that need something viable to get us around and live a thousand miles away (actually is 858 miles so I am exaggerating  a bit...) from the nearest hydrogen refueling station,  the real news from this is who will be the maker that provides the first 150-200 mile EV for under $35,000!

We still haven't heard from Nissan about the specs of the 2014 LEAF yet but most feel that a jump in range wont be part of the equation and I have to agree. There is simply nowhere to add another significant battery module to the car. But these auto shows tend to have cars that wont be available for more than a year so we might see a new model from "someone" out in 2015 or 2016.  Who it will be is anyone's guess but Kia, Mitsubishi and Hyundai seem to still be interested in EVs and maybe another try from BYD to break into the American Market?

It seems like Japan has segmented itself into two camps. EVs verses Fuel Cells and the larger the market share, the less likely it is still interested in electric.  I find it difficult to believe that Toyota is seriously considering a consumer level fuel cell car so soon and have to think it is their way of meeting CA's emission policies. But have to think a well designed EV would have done the trick for MUCH less money.  Despite all our whining about wanting more range, there is still a very healthy market for an 80-100 mile EV. The level of sales in hotspots like Seattle and Atlanta is a great indicator of what a little local support can do for the platform.

Sorry but EVs are win-win for everyone but the oil industry. The government supports a lot of programs; many with questionable value if any at all. So a bit more could really help to solidify the market and provide the financial incentive to the auto makers to broaden the offerings.

One final note; despite my being against fuel cells, it will still be nice to see them up close (something I have yet to do) so will have some thoughts on them as well.  With the NDA, wont be able to show you anything until at least the 22nd I am guessing which is OK. That is a travel day so probably be near Thanksgiving before I report back!

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