December 7, 2011
Best In Show: Part 1
Nissan designer Francois Bancon takes the Global Media Center for a tour of the competition at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show.
Francois Bancon: “This is after the quality issue they were having in the U.S. two years ago – which is a big deal for the company – the earthquake, the tsunami in Japan, the Thailand situation now. They feel like it’s a good opportunity to say that Toyota is back on track.
Aqua – This is interesting. You know that Honda launched the Insight some years ago with a very attractive price with the hybrid system. And, of course, Toyota will never accept that anyone is better than them in the hybrid category and this is the answer. It’s a compact car, about 4.1 meters [in length] targeting a price tag of about 1.5 or 1.6 million yen, which is really impressive. And I’m not sure they’re going to make any money out of this, but, anyway, this is Toyota.
FT-EV III – And they have the iQ EV. If you remember, well, some years ago, Toyota was explaining that EV would never work because the only solution is a hybrid. So, they now have EV all over the place, starting with iQ, which is an existing model – 3 meters long, which is sold in Europe, Japan, and I think that’s it for now. And they have now an EV version. Nothing special. We were also playing in this category with some product to come. The idea is to make EV affordable for everyone, for the urban environment. I think iQ is a good support, a good base to do this.
86 – So you know the 86? It’s a long story in Japan for Toyota. The 86 was 30 years ago a kind of emblem of the sports car by Toyota – an affordable sports car. So they made a deal with Subaru to [supply] the four-cylinder flat architecture, and they came up with this car – which is, I have to say, well done – for the four-cylinder rear-wheel drive about 200 horsepower. It’s a good initiative… in terms of communicating the brand of Toyota back to some sports car heritage.
D-X - So Daihatsu – a kei car maker, as you know. The Copen is a sports car made by Daihatsu for 10 years. They tried to make it global by trying to sell the car in Europe. That didn’t work so well because they are too exposed to small, kind of toy-ish sports cars. It’s a nice idea. In a kei car package, they succeeded to make a thrilling sports car – thrilling more than performance.
Cross Coupé - This is a concept car made by Volkswagen, the so-called Cross Coupé. This is interesting – a kind of crossover between Juke and Qashqai. And with a kind of new design execution, which somehow has some inspiration from what Land Rover did recently on a compact crossover story. I think that should work. Obviously, this is for Europe and a little bit for Japan. Now, will Volkswagen be able to deliver on cost and price? That may be the next challenge for them. But the idea is interesting.
It’s really what Qashqai did to create in Europe as a segment, in a little bit smaller format. They kind of exaggerate the height – it is very low. That is always why they call this coupe. And the car is very wide. And that’s always why they call this a crossover. So, probably you will not find this in production, but the idea looks interesting.
By the way, this is the only foreign maker that is proposing something dedicated to the Tokyo show, as a global premiere for a concept car.”
Check our blog tomorrow for Best In Show: Part 2, with Francois Bancon on Honda, Suzuki and Mercedes-Benz.
Nissan Global Media Center