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Tokyo Auto Show

We can’t imagine a more awesome auto show to attend than the Tokyo Motor Show. Your loyal scribe has never set foot in Japan, would certainly love to, and especially so during auto week in Tokyo. The three auto powerhouse countries (in no order) are the U.S., Germany and Japan. U.S. auto shows have taken a turn to the electronic, while Germany still maintains its firm automotive roots, and Japan is a hybrid of the two. One might expect the Tokyo Motor Show to look and feel like a tech explosion, but it is remarkably true to its origins, and the 2019 version is upon us.

The biggest story so far does not revolve around a certain make or model, but rather a man. That man is Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan Chairman who was arrested in November of last year for alleged financial misconduct. Ghosn was beloved (prior to folks learning of the allegations) and left a firm mark on Nissan, especially regarding electric vehicles. But on the first day it wasn’t Nissan who was front and center, but rather Toyota Motor Corp. Chief Executive Akio Toyoda wowed the crowd appearing on stage as an animation character (affectionately named Morizo). Apparently, folks in Japan like anime.

Toyoda made a big pitch aimed at putting his people first, acknowledging automization and the use of robotics and artificial intelligence, but that nothing could replace his human workforce. The main goal of the Tokyo show is to get Japanese consumers on board and excited about upcoming makes and models. World premieres however occur outside of Japan and are typically aimed at shows in the U.S. (Los Angeles and Detroit).

American manufacturers like Ford and General Motors register poor sales (comparatively speaking) in Japan. They will skip the Tokyo show if they’re experiencing down years and this year on the international side Renault took part, Nissan’s partner who also shared a booth. Nissan’s new CEO is Makoto Uchida, but he has not taken up his post yet. Uchida is still in charge of Nissan’s China joint venture and as such did not make a formal speech. At the show Nissan introduced two electric concept cars, one of which is known as “kei,” which in Japanese means a tiny car (rough translation). The other was a sport-utility car and Nissan is keen on keeping their place at the electric vehicle table with the amazing success they’ve had with the Leaf.

Ghosn continues to maintain his innocence and was released on bail after a horrific one-month struggle. He is still awaiting trial so few ever expect to see him again. But apart from that black eye, the Tokyo Show is expected to be a hit as always. 

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