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Rolling out New Technologies

The Tokyo Motor Show has been wowing car lovers for 60 years. The latest edition promises the public even more sensational models.

The expo is the place for automakers to put their wildest ideas on display. One concept car from Toyota peels back the skin to show off the parts and mechanics that make it go. So it's no wonder they named it "Kikai," which means "machine" in Japanese. The automaker is hoping its naked beauty will turn the heads of younger Japanese, many of whom no longer see a car as a necessity.

More than 70 new models are being unveiled at the expo. The show's focus is on cutting-edge technology that's also eco-friendly. Take fuel cells as an example. They use hydrogen stored on board and oxygen from the air to generate electricity. Toyota just came out with a fuel cell car last year, but already the company has its next generation concept car to show off.

Another new model can also serve as a generator, delivering electricity to other vehicles, or even a local power grid. It has more space for passengers because its electric motors are tucked away by the wheels.

Honda hopes to attract eco-conscious consumers with a fuel cell vehicle that has a range of up to 700 kilometers. It's expected to hit the market next year. "We need to improve our technology to mass-produce the car," Honda Motor President Takahiro Hachigo says. "By cutting costs we can expand the market for fuel cell cars. So we want to put our efforts into that."

Following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, automakers are eager to restore the reputation of diesel cars. They're promoting their own clean diesel technologies.

Visitors were invited to try out personal mobility devices that are good for getting around in urban settings. Another model aims to solve the age-old problem of finding parking space. It folds in the middle to shorten its wheelbase by a third. "I want people around the world to know about this new vehicle," says Hiroomi Kinoshita, President of Ex Machina. "So, we want to be able to mass-produce the car by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics."

The spotlight is also on self-driving technology. Nissan aims to release an automated car that will detect and stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the road. It will even signal to them to pass. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor says "You can take hands off from wheels. You can take off eyes from the road. You can do something else. With connected tech you are going to be able to send emails and do video conferences. Life on board is going to change. Consumers are very interested in this. That's why we are all in a hurry."

Organizers expect more than 900,000 visitors at the 10-day event. If the concept cars are anything to judge by, vehicles that think for themselves and eco cars that push boundaries may be in every garage sooner than we think.

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