2011 Tokyo Auto Show: Honda Debuts Seven Concepts As Crazy As Japan Itself

By Blake Z. Rong | November 11, 2011
The Tokyo Motor Show, like the rest of Japan, is one of those unfathomable affairs that seems at once completely insane and entirely earnest—where otherwise straight-laced manufacturers come out with anime-faced ball mice on wheels, single-seater commuter pods that resemble vacuum cleaners, and something called the “Daihatsu Basket.” And just as John Deere commands the annual National Farm Machinery Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Honda is on its A-game this month. The company is releasing seven concepts at itshome turf: four cars, three motorcycles, and even a mobility scooter that looks nothing like the Hoveround scraping across a Wal-Mart parking lot. Honda’s theme this year is electric mobility, and itsmost mainstream offering is the AC-X—a sleek four-door plug-in hybrid—and the aptly-named Small Sports EV Concept, a compact sports car with an open top that promises blue-tinged, responsible fun. Honda’s other two four-wheeled concepts are aimed at maximizing smaller spaces. The Micro Commuter Concept debuts a new two-wheel EV drive system, and doesn’t resemble a car so much as it does a pet that Optimus Prime might keep in the yard. And the N Box Concept, a wide-eyed, slab-sided box that can fit the refrigerator it resembles, is the only gasoline-powered vehicle shown and debuts a new lineup of micro-sized cars. Honda bills itself as a mobility company—note its experiments with ASIMO, its robotic bartender—and as such is rolling out more than just motorcycles. Note the E-Canopy, a three-wheeled scooter with a wide plastic windshield that can protect against rock chips and displaced Spartan archers. Or the Townwalker, a Johnny-5-resembling mobility scooter that can be folded into a trunk—and in fact, doesn’t enable much walking. The most exciting two-wheeled unveil, the RC-E, is an electric motorcycle about the size of a small superbike, and both painted and styled to match its fire-breathing CBR sportbike lineup. And my personal favorite—the return of the Honda Motor Compo, an idea far ahead of its time: a box of a motorcycle that fits in the back of a city car, from which two wheels and a handlebar emerge for around-town schlepping. Unlike the cult status of the former Motocompo (which are prized collector’s items, according to their price tags at least), this collapsible scooter has a battery pack instead of leaky two-stroke gasoline engine, and fits neatly in the back of the Micro Commuter Concept above. No word on whether 1980s British ska pop bands might lend their dance skills to this current model. Look for more Tokyo Auto Show coverage from Automotive.com in the coming days. Source: Honda