Tokyo motor shows: past, present and future | CAR Magazine

Tokyo Motor shows | 2009 | 2008 | Tokyo Auto show

Published: 20 August 2009 Updated: 26 January 2015

Tokyo Motor show video

As bets in this topsy-turvy, unpredictable industry go, it’s a banker: of all the motor shows on the global calendar, the Tokyo exhibit is always the barmiest. Although the Chinese shows are rising in importance – and amusement value –  there’s something peculiarly bonkers about the biannual Japanese bash held in downtown Tokyo. So strange is the exhibition at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba City to westerners, that you don’t bat an eyelid at talking cars, vehicles with feelings, or cars designed for dogs.

The domestic brands – Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Daihatsu and Suzuki – are all primed to out-do each other on the wacky stakes, and the homegrown products jostle with important models from the west for the attention of onlookers and media.

Why is the Japanese auto show so different? It strikes right to the heart of Japanese culture. Here is a country with a very different aesthetic to Europeans’ or Americans’. Technology is king and in industrial design history counts for less than in western cultures, explaining why Japanese car companies are more forward-facing than western brands. Ever noticed that Japanese car designs are more usually clean-sheet than evolution?

Anyone who’s experienced the vibrant noisiness and bustle of high-rise Tokyo will understand a little why Japanese cars are so different. There’s a little of bubbling Ropongi in that digital speedo stack in your humdrum Honda Civic.

Check out our video from the 2007 Tokyo motor show in our player below to get a flavour for the Japanese home show. And although the 2009 show has been hit by a series of no-shows, there will be a string of important new cars at this autumn’s Tokyo show. Here’s a list of what’s expected at the 2009 Tokyo motor show to whet your appetite:

Honda CRZ production car unveiled
Lexus LF-A production car announcement




By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words