And when I say everyone, I literally mean that – from small manufacturers like Suzuki to giants like Nissan. Of course, the biggest of them all was all-in at the event, too. Toyota allowed Lexus to shine brightly with the LF-ZL and LF-ZC premieres before stealing the red carpet's spotlight with the namesake brand's introductions. In fact, there were so many of them that the Japanese automaker had to reveal them one by one a few days before the event.
They started with the teasers for the all-new FT-3e crossover SUV, which looks like a coupe-SUV from the future and a lot better than the inaptly-named bZ4X. The edgy design fits well with the current trends, and we wouldn't mind seeing that on the streets ducking it out with the subsequent Tesla Model Y at the company's NACS-standardized superchargers. Interestingly, the rumor mill claims Toyota has trademarked the moniker in the United States, so perhaps there's a chance to see that brawl after all.
The same batch of initial teasers also brought to our attention the FT-Se, a powertrain and platform sibling that suggests a modular approach to the next BEVs and also that maybe Toyota is ready to finally revive the beloved MR2 nameplate. The GR branding also tells us to expect only the best from this potential EV sports car – though it probably won't be on par with the second-gen Tesla Roadster if it reaches production.
Toyota doesn't shy away from making everyone think crazy things – so its 'Land Hopper' trademark that everyone thought it designated a compact 'mini' Land Cruiser was actually for a three-wheel EV mobility concept that has nothing to do with the legendary off-road-focused SUV. On the other hand, the company did present a new Land Cruiser concept – Se – the first all-electric version of the iconic series. I really hope this thing comes to America to battle across the nation's trails with models like the Rivian R1S and GMC Hummer EV SUV.
Let's talk about the quirky stuff now – such as the Honda and Toyota off-road side-by-side HySE-X1 with a hydrogen-burning supercharger that will try to race in January at the 2024 Dakar Rally. If it survives, maybe they'll start thinking about making the Mirai a little more exciting and adding the supercharger to it – we heard that even Toyota's corner office head honchos admit the nameplate is a massive failure. Anyway, the weirdos from Toyota's JMS booth also include the Kayoibako EV minivan – essentially a 'configurable shipping container' on wheels and the X-Van Gear Concept made by the Toyota Auto Body subsidiary – an MPV with sliding doors, no B-pillar, and the general allure of a boxy little SUV.
Now, let's discuss the superstars. For me, the cutest thing around at Toyota's JMS exhibit is the IMV 0 concept, first because it looks like the promised and desired Scout revival. Secondly, because it's a modular truck/van concept that can transform into a mobile café, a giant vending machine, an ambulance, an ambulance, or about anything else you could desire. Thirdly, its rugged yet affordable charm would be a great asset in a fight with the Ford Maverick if Toyota ever decided to bring it to America.
Speaking of the unibody compact pickup truck sector, where only the Hyundai Santa Cruz and the best-selling Maverick play around in the United States, Toyota also has the EPU electric pickup truck unibody concept on display. While it's only a prototype now, its minimalist styling is pretty easy to adapt into series production. Toyota could even satisfy everyone and make it a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and a full EV when built in a factory on a modular platform.
Not counting the Vellfire Spacious Lounge Concept, which is certainly never coming to North America, or the 2024 Land Cruiser with a yoke steering wheel that's made for impaired drivers rather than Tesla's whims, for me, the most crucial reveal at JMS was the Land Cruiser Se fully electric off-road SUV concept. While there are few details at the moment, this three-row prototype reveals how Toyota's flagship off-road nameplate has a clear path to the future.
And it's only logical considering the metamorphosis undergone by the series in recent years with the advent of the J300 Land Cruiser and the all-new J250 Land Cruiser. If accurate, this Se version will surely command a premium over both – making it a great competitor for the Mercedes EQG and the upcoming Range Rover EV, right? At least, I hope so.