BBC Autos

Oddballs at the 2013 Tokyo motor show

  • U'eyes Design D-Face

    Stylists at U'eyes may not have been aware of the potential negative connotations of the English word "deface" when they named their unusual concept. Nevertheless, it is an adventurous little transportation module, with its single front-opening door in the manner of the classic BMW Isetta.

    Unlike that little post-war "bubble car", the D-Face uses clean electric power for motivation in place of the Isetta's noisy, smoky power plant.

    Size-wise, the D-Face is only marginally larger than its progenitor, so it remains easy to park. An enormous glass roof gives special emphasis to the car's "greenhouse", automotive shorthand for a car's glasswork. (Photo: Dan Carney)

    An earlier version of this story suggested the BMW Isetta had only three wheels. Other than the first-year prototypes, Isettas were four-wheeled vehicles. Additionally, Isettas were not powered by two-stroke motorcycle engines as originally written, but by four-stroke power plants.

  • NATS EV-Sports Prototype02

    To promote electric drive, students at the Nihon Automobile College built a zippy sports racer fitted with an electric motor and battery pack. The narrow EV carries its driver and passenger in tandem, affording a minimised frontal area, and it weighs a scant 350kg (771lbs). But with a paltry 19 horsepower, the EV-Sports prototype is more show than go.

    Top speed is a relaxed 65kph (40mph), and driving range is limited to 50km. So maybe it’s a little slow. How many electric cars did you design and build in college? (Photo: Dan Carney)

  • Toyota FV2

    Not all of Tokyo’s oddballs came from styling houses or students. As is its habit, Toyota exhibited some of its own far-out thinking in the form of the FV2. Think of a recumbent bicycle or Tron Light Cycle fitted with a pair of enormous wheelchair wheels amidships to act as outriggers. The effect is that of a side-wheeled steamship. Or maybe a side-wheeled torpedo.

    Toyota, however, pledges that it fuses with the driver, both physically and emotionally, and becomes more fun to drive the more often it is used.

    Alas, it belongs to a "future world in which vehicle technology has advanced greatly", which is to say Toyota will not comment on the source of its propulsion. (Photo: Newspress)

  • Honda MC-β

    Honda, on the other hand, can tell us what's inside the MC-β (Greek letter “beta”), even going so far as to allow a brief test drive. The microcar has offset tandem seating, which affords the back-seater the ability to rest his or her legs to the left of the driver.

    The MC-B has a top speed of more than 70kph and will travel as far as 80km on a charge of its lithium-ion battery. Its structure is a stamped steel pan with a network of steel tube brackets supporting the plastic bodywork, much in the manner of Honda’s motorcycle construction.

    A trip around a parking-lot slalom course showed the MC-β to be sprightly and agile, though it heeled over like a sailboat in hard cornering. (Photo: Honda Motor)