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Eye candy, eco cars tease at Tokyo Motor Show (photos)

The quake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan have renewed emphasis on fuel-efficient tech at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show, with green cars and incredible concept cars sharing the spotlight.

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Tim Hornyak
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TOKYO--The quake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan have renewed emphasis on fuel-efficient tech at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show here, with green cars and incredible concept cars sharing the spotlight. The show opens to the public on Saturday.
Toyota's magnificent concept car, the Fun-Vi three-seater, is drawing lots of attention at the show with its customizable appearance. Users can change the exterior display panels with a phone app, displaying their own photos, their blog, or anything else on the body.
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The 42nd installment of the Tokyo Motor Show returned to the capital for the first time in 24 years after a long run at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, just outside Tokyo. Opening to the public Saturday, it showcases 45 world premieres, up from 39 at the last show.
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Planned for launch around 2015, the Toyota FCV-R is a hydrogen-powered sedan that seats four. It has a 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tank and a cruising range of about 430 miles.
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Honda's sleek AC-X plug-in hybrid concept has a 161-hp electric motor. Its "engine drive mode" is for aggressive driving with joystick-like Twin-Lever Steering controls, while "automatic drive mode" puts the car in autopilot and stows the steering mechanism.
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Speaking of autopilot, Toyota is running test-drives of its Automatic Vehicle Operation System (AVOS), an autonomous drive control for the Prius. The car uses GPS and embedded sensors to find its way on regular roads, as well on the roof of Tokyo Big Sight.
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Another Honda concept, the EV-STER, is a sporty electric vehicle with a top speed of 160 kph and a maximum range of 160 kilometers.
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Nissan's fresh-faced Pivo 3 is a three-seater EV with a function called "automated valet parking" in special parking lots. It can also be summoned to pick up the driver automatically.
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Previewing the Mazda6, the Takeri is a midsize sedan that takes advantage of the Skyactiv-D clean diesel engine, regenerative braking, and "i-stop" idling-reduction technology.
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Another EV concept from Honda, the angular Micro Commuter is a three-seater with a lithium ion Loop battery, an output of 23 hp and a range of 60 km per charge. The folding Moto Compo electric scooter, which also uses the Loop, can be stowed beside the driver in a kind of symbiotic vehicular relationship.
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The Nissan Townpod, revealed in 2010, is a bulky EV concept designed under the goal of "mobility that exceeds the category of a mere passenger car or a commercial car." Its charge port is hidden in the nose panel, while the side and rear doors can open wide to take oversize cargo.
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Kobot is a series of concept vehicles from Kowa Tmsuk, a joint venture involving companies in medical equipment and robotics. Here, the stylish interior of the Kobot Pi seems geared toward younger drivers as much as its exterior, which resembles a giant pumpkin on wheels.
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The Kobot V, meanwhile, is an electric scooter that looks like a Tron concept that didn't quite make it past the brainstorming stage. It has a "telescopic foldable structure" to save space in parking lots, according to Kowa Tmsuk.
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Subaru's production BRZ is a rear-wheel sports car under development with Toyota. It has a 2.0-liter, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder D-4S Boxer engine and was designed under a product concept of "Pure Handling Delight."
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Daihatsu's boxy FC ShowCase can seat four people and is powered by hydrazine hydrate liquid fuel cells, which can be synthesized from nitrogen and hydrogen. The technology does not require rare metals and is being billed as environmentally friendly.
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Osaka-based bearings manufacturer NTN demoed this two-seater in-wheel motor EV, which can drive forward and back, laterally, and pivot in place.
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Displayed earlier this year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Formula 1-style Volkswagen NILS is a lightweight one-seater EV that can hit 62 mph in less than 11 seconds, with a top speed of 81 mph.
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This nutty EV from interior materials maker Lixil has an all-wood finish, with an adjustable louvered roof, and drawers on the side and rear. Yes, those are real ponies in the background.
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Brake manufacturer Akebono is showing off the gorgeous Spider K.O. 7 by Ken Okuyama. Inspired by samurai sword forms, it has an unpainted aluminum and carbon fiber finish, and 4-cylinder DOHC engine.
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Designed by Yamaha and Toyota, the Electric commuter EC-Miu is a tricycle with Wi-Fi capability for navigation by smartphone, and can be recharged with a contactless interface at G-Stations for electric cars.
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Suzuki's compact Q-concept two-seater is one of several bubble cars at the Tokyo Motor Show. It's designed for shopping, commuting, and short rides, with a 10-km (6-mile) radius from home. Route navigation is through a smartphone slotted into the dash; relevant apps can transmit info to friends who are driving nearby.

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