The sun hasn’t quite set on 2011 just yet, but this is a good time to take a look back over the last year at the most popular posts on this blog.
So, without further ado, let’s begin with number 10….
We broke the story about Honda taking a new direction. In the past, Honda has been about cars and bikes. But in the future, Honda execs see home power generation as becoming a third pillar of their business.
Honda is not alone in this. Toyota — who also have a home construction subsidiary — and others are also looking into the idea of homes having their own power supply off the grid. The earthquake in March really pushed this to the fore, and I can imagine the Japanese carving out a leadership role in this nascent industry over the next decade.
Once again, we were breaking this story in the English media long before it appeared in such motoring publications as Autocar. Toray may not be a name you are familiar with, but if you don’t know about Gordon Murray, I have to wonder where you have been for the past … at least 20 years.
The legendary former Formula 1 designer and creator of the McLaren F1 has in recent years turned his attention to the small, affordable and easy to construct. The thing is, he’s still in love with lightweight construction, so who better to team up with for the TEEWAVE concept EV sports car than Toray, purveyors of carbon fiber?
There is something sad about a broken vehicle, but that’s even more true when the car in question was once a creation of sleek beauty. Now, the Countach has always been a divisive design. You love it. You hate it. The early 70s versions were certainly far ahead of their time. But then you come to the 80s and the Countach goes strakes, wing spoilers and Crocket and Tubbs bling. Anyway, this one was a great example of some of the more unusual vehicles you can find in Japan’s car auctions.
While 2011 may not have been the Year of the EV, there was certainly no shortage of EV stories making the news from Japan. These kinds of kei truck EV conversions may seem rather prosaic, but the thing about delivery trucks in Japan is that they don’t require a huge range. So even with today’s battery tech, a Japanese local delivery company can get a day’s work out of the truck — and do so without polluting the urban environment.
Not really a news story this one, but nonetheless the Toyota Coms post generated a lot of visitors obviously very interested to find out about this lesser-known Toyota electric car. Well, to call it a car would be a stretch. it’s more like a three-wheeler with a roof. Not that it is cheap, though. Which perhaps explains why it’s not in production anymore.
If “range anxiety” is the zeitgeist of automotive journalism in 2011, perhaps this invention could be the answer? A power source that could get your electric car back up to full charge in just 5 minutes. That’s what this enterprising Japanese inventor is aiming for with this patented recharging system.
Not content to simply own Daihatsu, the leading kei mini car brand in Japan, Toyota has decided to launch their own Toyota sub-brand of kei cars. You will have to be a real expert to distinguish these from their Daihatsu siblings, though. The only real difference seems to be the badges.
The Toyota Aqua will be sold overseas under the Prius name. We were not first to break the story this time, but by going directly to the Japanese media we were able to correct a lot of erroneous information about the newest addition to the Prius family in the English-language coverage.
This story was ostensibly about a VW show car called the “Bulli” (OK-looking car, terrible name), but most interest was in the way the Japanese customize Suzuki Every vans to make them look like modern-day versions of the VW microbus of the 60s.
Why VW has never followed up the New Beetle with a retro-style New Microbus minivan, I have no idea. After all, these Every van customizations show the interest that’s out there.
By far the biggest story of 2011 with almost 2,500 views is this one about the compressed air powered car built by a club team at Toyota Industries Corporation, a Toyota group subsidiary specializing in air compressor development. Hardly a practical power source for the future of automotive travel, but you can’t deny the effort and ingenuity that went into this car that achieved a world record top speed of 80.3 MPH in September.
I hope you’ve enjoyed keeping up with car news from Japan with me in 2011. I wonder what 2012 will bring? What new tech, new models and new offbeat stories? Stay tuned and find out here as it happens.