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I Think JAMA Did a Good Thing Retconning Tokyo's Motor Show Into a Japan Mobility Show

Hosted by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), the legendary biennial auto show held during the fall at the Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan, was once proudly called the Tokyo Motor Show, and it covered subjects like cars, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles.
Japan Mobility Show 2023 preview 8 photos
Photo: JAMA
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Its rich history starts with an event titled "All Japan Motor Show" back in 1954, a resounding success – mainly for the dominating commercial vehicles. The Tokyo Motor Show was also initially an annual affair, but from 1973 onward (with a slight hiatus in 2000-2005), it became part of the biennial automotive show calendar. During its almost seven decades of continuous existence, the event was only canceled or suspended twice – in 1974 due to the international energy crisis and in 2021 because of the global pandemic.

However, right on the precipice of its seventieth anniversary, the Tokyo Motor Show is no more. Worried by the incredible switch in automotive trends where both the general audience and automakers distanced themselves from classic automotive shows like the Geneva Motor Show (which this year landed in… Qatar) in favor of events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed or the Monterey Car Week, JAMA decided to rebrand its prized possession into the 'Japan Mobility Show' starting in 2023.

Interestingly, the name is different, but the venue is the same – it takes place between October 26 and November 5 at Tokyo Big Sight – and so are the automakers. More precisely, all major Japanese carmakers have prepared an extensive roster of novelties that will physically appear at the automotive and mobility show. That's in stark contrast to other entries in the field, such as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that changed its date to a fall slot and still failed to attract an audience – only the Big Detroit Three saved it this year from total and absolute oblivion.

Back in Tokyo, Japan, the event formerly known as the Tokyo Motor Show is packed with novelties, most of which are of the edgy concept car variety. Naturally, because of its new JMS name, the Japan Mobility Show will also include other forms of transportation beyond automobiles, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles. On the other hand, the vibe remains just as positive as always due to the obvious desire of the local Japanese automakers to stand out in any crowd and their interest in showcasing models and prototypes covering almost any automotive genre you can or cannot think about.

So far, we know that even the funky BMW iX2 will be on point for the Bavarians to rock the world of compact coupe-SUVs with a jolt of electricity and the looks that make it a potential BMW X4 heir. It's also going to rock more than 300 electrified ponies, but don't expect it to hit the shores of North America – just its gasoline-powered counterpart will make the journey.

Daihatsu, a name that doesn't ring too many bells and whistles in Europe or America unless you love quirky little city cars, has thought about everything – albeit mainly with a boxy attitude. As such, look out for the edges of the Me:Mo or Uniform Truck & Cargo concepts. Meanwhile, those who have a sporty attitude will surely give the thumbs up to the Osanpo, a high-riding compact electric roadster, before falling in love with the Vision Copen, a preview of a potentially larger next-gen that would tentatively rival with the iconic Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Honda is splashing out at JMS with just about everything – from the tiny 'last-mile' CI-MEV commuter concept to the boxy N-Van E commercial vehicle and from the Pocket concept, a continuation of the ideas presented with the Motocompacto to the Sustania-C, which is a smaller and cuter Honda E hatchback with lots of sustainable ideas integrated into the proof of concept. However, the most crucial novelty – which we know nothing about at the time of press – is the Specialty Sports Concept.

We should be expecting some nicely big things from Infiniti, with the Vision Qe Concept seemingly ready to help us glimpse into the future of the company's electric vehicle design ethos. So far, we have visions of a four-door coupe from the arching teaser. Lexus will rival Infiniti, without a doubt, as the luxurious Toyota division will bring an entire range of EV concepts that we still know nothing about.

Now, let's jump on board the hype train with Nissan, as the Japanese brand has slowly yet steadily revealed no less than four 'Hyper' EV concepts so far – Urban focuses on being a city SUV, Adventure wants to be stylish yet funky in nature, the Tourer prototype is decidedly ugly (or a Japanese-style minimalist, depending on your POV), and the Hyper Punk concept looks like something out of a video game – even acts as one because it can read your mood as you drive.

Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru could easily share a booth together because they don't trespass on any of their territories – a mysterious image from Mazda makes us think about a potential Miata EV, the Mitsubishi rivals want us to go off-roading with a boxy-looking yet cool electrified minivan prototype, and Subaru dares to be retro-modern with a Sport Mobility Concept. Oh, and Suzuki has gone against the concept trend with the redesigned Swift hatchback. Now, that about wraps things up, right?

No, we haven't forgotten about Toyota. The company is bringing its modular IMV model to JMS, and I bet that after the event is over, the rumor mill will go wild trying to understand how this adorable cargo truck can transform into a Stout heir or a Corolla Cross sibling and attack the unibody compact truck sector, which is dominated in America by the popular Ford Maverick. Last but not least, there's also the modular Kayoibako EV minivan, along with the main attractions at the company's booth: the FT-3e electric SUV concept and the FT-Se EV sports car concept.

So, what do you think – is the inaugural Japan Mobility Show ready to make us forget all about the iconic Tokyo Motor Show, or is this just vaporware in a desperate attempt to ensure its survivability?
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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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