New green cars

Eco pimp my ride

AN ELECTRIC car that can move sideways, a hydrogen-powered van with a body made out of a gel-like substance and a hybrid, stroller-shaped vehicle that runs on sidewalks and streets.

These and other eco-friendly concept cars to go on display today at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, running thru Nov. 11, are designed to give off warm, fuzzy feelings along with reduced carbon-dioxide emissions.

Toyota Motor Corp. will take the wraps off the largest number of dream cars, representing a wide range of green energy and design options.


Of the eight models, the golf cart-like RiN, fitted with green glass, the roofless i-Real robotic single-seat vehicle shaped like a sleek stroller with two wheels in front and one at the back, can be driven on streets or sidewalks and the 1/X plug-in hybrid car, dubbed the future Prius that has a carbon-fiber lightweight body, are likely to draw particular attention from visitors.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will make a feature of its electric compact vehicle, the i MiEV Sport, equipped with a supplemental photovoltaic generator on the roof.

Mazda Motor Corp. will put on display the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid minivan, which runs on a rotary engine capable of converting energy from hydrogen combustion into electricity.

The concept cars, though years away from the market, show how Japan’s top auto makers are stretching their research and development to create models for the so-called green-car market that aren’t just good for the environment but also make drivers feel good.

Honda Motor Co., for example, will display the PUYO, a fuel-cell-powered van with a soft body made of silicone that helps reduce damage in a crash. The car runs on hydrogen and emits only water as a byproduct. The interior of the PUYO rotates so owners never have to deal with driving in reverse. Parts of the dashboard and body glow in various colors.

Toyota, Japan’s biggest auto maker by sales, will also exhibit the Hi-CT, aimed at younger consumers. The vehicle has a long, box-shaped body with a trunk that can be detached like a suitcase and a deck on which surfboards, bicycles and other equipment can be loaded.

The maker of the Prius hybrid will also show off a square RiN, with green glass and a system that emits oxygen on demand, as well as a display panel that shows images to help relax drivers.

The Hi-CT and the RiN are both gasoline-electric hybrids with batteries that can be recharged by plugging them into a standard electrical outlet.

Nissan Motor Co. will show off its electric car, the PIVO 2, whose upper body can rotate 360 degrees so that passengers can board the vehicle at any angle. The PIVO 2 also has tires that can be turned 90 degrees so the car can move sideways to help the driver parallel park.

Other features include special sensors the company says can detect drivers’ moods, and equipment that can converse with drivers to make them feel at ease while promoting safe driving.

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