This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 29, 2003

Japanese Automakers Look to the Future at Tokyo Auto Show

While Honda and Toyota currently lead the world in the production of hybrid electric vehicles with high fuel efficiencies, their concept vehicles at the Tokyo Auto Show-now underway and continuing through November 5th-suggest an intent to use hybrid technology for more high-powered performance in the future. Toyota stands out with its Lexus "LF-S," a sedan powered by a hybrid electric V8 engine; its "SU-HV1," a sport utility vehicle that combines a 3.3-liter V6 engine with a 120-kilowatt motor, boosted by a 50-kilowatt motor on the rear axle; and its "CS&S," a sports car that marries a 1.5-liter engine to a 50-kilowatt motor, with another motor mounted on the front axle. Toyota's CS&S aims to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 8.6 seconds while achieving a fuel economy of nearly 78 miles per gallon. Toyota is also displaying the "Fine-N," a fuel cell car that uses four 25-kilowatt wheel-mounted motors. See the press releases, images, videos, and detailed information on Toyota's Tokyo Auto Show Web site.

Honda brought its own vision of high-performance hybrid technology to the Tokyo Auto Show. The "IMAS," which looks like a Honda Insight on steroids, incorporates Honda's newest hybrid power system into a carbon-bodied two-seater that weighs slightly more than 1,500 pounds. Honda estimates the vehicle would achieve more than 94 miles to the gallon. Honda also introduced the "ASM," a hybrid electric minivan, and the fuel-cell-powered "KIWAMI," a wedge-shaped sedan that uses an ultracapacitor for energy storage. See Honda's Tokyo Auto Show Web site.

Meanwhile, Daihatsu and Subaru are threatening to topple the Honda and Toyota hybrid electric dynasty. Daihatsu debuted the "UFE-II," a four-seat hybrid that looks like an Insight, weighs less than 1,300 pounds, and achieves the lowest aerodynamic drag yet (0.19), all of which yields an astounding 140 miles per gallon. Subaru unveiled the "B9 Scrambler"-a two-seat sports car featuring its new hybrid power system-and the all-electric "R1e" mini-car. See the Daihatsu press release and Subaru's Tokyo Auto Show Web site.

Other Japanese automakers focused mainly on fuel cell vehicles and advanced internal-combustion engines. Nissan unveiled its "EFFIS" fuel cell car, which uses a lithium-ion battery and an efficient motor with two output shafts that can be controlled independently. Mitsubishi brought its new fuel cell vehicle to the show, and also introduced the "i," a small, lightweight car that uses an advanced gasoline engine to achieve low emissions and a fuel economy of 62 miles per gallon. And Mazda debuted the "RX-8 Hydrogen RE," which features a rotary engine that burns hydrogen. See the press releases from Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Mazda.