Tokyo Auto Salon 2023 Features the Fun, Freaky, and Photogenic

The Tokyo Auto Salon celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, bringing something akin to the SEMA show of fabulous Las Vegas all the way across the Pacific Ocean to the monster Makaharu Messe outside Tokyo. The Messe is the same place the Tokyo Motor Show used to be held back in the days before international auto shows started “evolving.”

It was quite an accomplishment and a tribute to organizers that the show was able to continue, especially in such a big location as the Makaharu Messe. It was canceled altogether due to COVID in 2019, then went online only in 2020, before switching to a hybrid online/in-person format in 2022. This year the halls were packed, and the power and performance were palpable in the big halls of the Messe.

Just as at the SEMA show and CES, there were aftermarket companies present as well as full-blow efforts by OEMs. Here are some of the more interesting cars.

Toyota AE86s

Toyota titled its presence at the Tokyo Auto Salon as “Carbon neutrality for protecting beloved cars.” To that end it offered two Earth-friendly takes on the beloved AE86: one all-electric and one powered by hydrogen fueling an internal-combustion engine.

The AE86 BEV Concept uses an electric motor pulled from the Tundra hybrid pickup truck powered by a battery from a Prius PHEV. The motor is mated to a manual transmission “that offers even greater driving pleasure than the original (AE86),” according to Toyota.

The AE86 H2 Concept uses two hydrogen storage tanks plucked from the Mirai fuel-cell vehicle. Both tanks are mounted in the rear of the car to keep the appropriately sporty rear-weight bias. From there Toyota added the appropriate fuel injectors, fuel lines, and spark plugs to make the combustion engine work on hydrogen.

2-Lexus Overtrail Project

Sounds like the term Overlanding but turned a little sideways. Making concept versions of the RXGX, and ROV Concept 2 was motivated by “…a desire to deliver outdoor experiences that help people understand, enjoy, and protect nature.” And make money off the new overlanding craze.

The RX, GX, and Crown Outdoor Concepts all get loaded up with off-road-ready parts like skid plates, chip-resistant paint, and rooftop tents. This is promising for the RX and GX, which we get in the US, but who knows what to make of the hydrogen-powered ROV Concept 2? That UTV-looking thing came out in 2022 and may or may not foretell a coming Lexus side-by-side.

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