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It was a time when the three household necessities, the refrigerator, washing machine and vacuum cleaner were called the “Three Sacred Treasures”. In the beginning, the vehicles on display were mostly commercial vehicles, but with the introduction of the “National Car Initiative” (four-passenger cars with a top speed of 100kph for under 250,000 yen) helped push passenger vehicle market. The passenger car people only dreamed about owning, started to become more of a household presence.
Starting with the economy cars called “1000 dollar cars” ($1 was \360 at the time), automakers produced many cars filled with ingenuity. With the introduction of the “Income Doubling Plan”, many people dreamed of owning the “3Cs”, a car, cooler and color TV, bringing upon the “3C Era”. In the 9th Tokyo Motor Show, Honda, who had great success in its motorcycle business, premiered their passenger vehicles for the first time. It was this year that the number of visitors to the show surpassed 1 million for the first time.
In the 11th Tokyo Motor Show, foreign automakers became serious about showing their cars at the show, because of import liberalization on foreign-made cars. The name of the event was also changed from the “All Japan Motor Show” to “Tokyo Motor Show”. Nissan and Toyota premiered their commercial V8 engine vehicles at this event to combat the new wave of foreign cars. At the 13th Tokyo Motor Show, the manufactures all presented their sub 1-liter displacement vehicles, signaling the dawn of the motorization of Japan.
With the introduction of the Tomei Expressway, an era of highway expansion started, as well as an era of high-performance Japanese vehicles to be used on those roads. At the 16th Tokyo Motor Show, sports cars and motor sport vehicles had a large presence. On the other hand, car-related social problems such as road safety, air pollution, and traffic congestion started to become more apparent during this time. Automakers started to advertise their low-pollution technology and their safety systems.
With the aftermath of the first oil shock, the Tokyo Motor Show became a bi-annual event from the 21st show. However, there was a worldwide boom of small cars, pushing the Japanese automobile industry to the top spot worldwide. After the 23rd Show, more realistic new technologies were being implemented in the cars on display such as turbos, diesel engines, front-wheel drive small cars (FF) and lightweight chassis. While the reduction in size of the venue caused a dip in visitors, a record 1.2 million visitors attended at the 25th Motor Show.
Concept cars termed new-generation cars started appearing from various automakers, with new technologies such as DOHC, 4-valve, 4WD and 4WS. Also with the strong yen, the tide was running in the favor of the western automakers, and started taking the Japanese market full-on. Starting with the 28th Show, the event moved to Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture. There, luxury cars and high performance vehicles such as the Toyota 4500GT and the NSX had all of the attention. Hydrogen and methanol vehicles started appearing at the 29th Tokyo Motor Show.
After the unveiling of the Prius at the 31st Motor Show in 1995, other manufacturers also started to present their hybrid cars at the following Motor Show, and this signaled the imminent arrival of a new generation. Even after that, fuel cell vehicles started appearing, and it seemed as though the environment was a big theme for this generation of vehicles. In addition, automakers began using IT in their cars to add expressive emotions and the ability to communicate with drivers. The implementation of e-tickets through the use of “i-mode” on cell phones also began.
There were even more environmental friendly cars on display such as a hydrogen fuel-cell buses, and there was also a test-drive course set up to let the visitors experience the capabilities of clean energy cars. In addition, new safety technology such as eye-blinking and heart rate driver monitoring systems showed advancements. On the other hand, new convertibles and cars aimed at the younger generation were on display aimed to liven up the slowing domestic market.
At the 41st Tokyo Motor Show, environmental cars established their place in the industry, and 19 vehicles, which were over half of the vehicles that had their world premiere, were environmentally friendly cars such as electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In addition to environment, safety was given much attention. There were cars with sensors that detect pedestrians to avoid collisions, visual assistance technology for inclement weather, self-parking, and other driver assistance systems at the show.
Copyright (C) The Yomiuri Shimbun.