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Previous Page The 24th Tokyo Motor Show (1981 . 10/30 - 11/10)
The 24th Tokyo Motor Show Poster

"Reliable Vehicles for Better Living"
The 1980s dawned amid expectation and uncertainty. The world was struggling with low economic growth and instability. However, in science, technology and industry, where "no further innovation" was once forecast, active advancement was expected to resume particularly in electronics, mechatronics, and material science. In hopes of contributing to building the kind of world all people wish for, the theme of the show was decided as "Better living, surer vehicles."

Fortunately, Japan s automobiles are world class in terms of energy-saving performance. Energy conservation is the common wish of all people, and effective use of energy is indispensable for all the world s people to enjoy better living, as well as for world peace. Furthermore, in order to offer the convenience of an automobile whenever required, minimizing breakdowns and providing rapid and accurate maintenance service are important. In this area also, Japanese cars have been evaluated as top class. Because of this superiority, appropriate prices, and comfortable interiors, Japanese cars have received support from many users throughout the world. And regrettably, it is also true that this very fact has been inviting economic friction, which is an unfortunate situation. Still, since these characteristics are what the world is after, it is important to realize an affluent society in which man and vehicle can live together. This was the theme of the show.

The 24th Motor Show, the first show of the 1980s, was opened in line with the above theme and aroused great enthusiasm among exhibitors. Automakers had continuously announced new models since early that spring, and exhibited at the show a large number of production prototypes to be introduced in the near future. They also presented many innovations, particularly in electronics. The following is a general view of the exhibitions. Conspicuous was a sharp increase of FF (front engine drive) systems in small and mass-market cars. Particularly in the mass-market segment, FF was adopted in most cars, allowing a roomier interior and increased utility. As for bodies, "three box" saloon cars were provided, along with the "two box" cars which were once popular. Thus, selection was widened. Car design was aerodynamically refined with lower bodies, reducing air resistance. Together with lighter bodies incorporating more high tension steel and plastics, this helped improve fuel efficiency. Engines became smaller and lighter. By reducing fuel consumption, the conflicting demands of higher output, cleaner emissions and economy were successfully satisfied.

Use of electronic fuel injection systems wherein an electronically controlled carburetor adjusts the air-gas mixture increased, and turbo chargers rapidly became popular. The turbo charger that helps improve output and economy by recouping energy left in the exhaust gas, and its competitor the DOHC engine attracted young people, which led to power competition. Automatic transmissions were also remarkably popular. Although they previously had poor performance and economy, advancements such as increased gear shifts spurred wider acceptance. The attraction of easy driving has made the system increasingly popular.

Adoption of electronics so-called "Magic wand" in the automobile was also extensively displayed. Many features were yet in the experimental stage. The following are some of those: a suspension adjusted automatically through the use of micro computers, lighter power steering, an electronic skid control mechanism that monitors wheel motion, and a wiper that starts automatically when it senses rain drops. Electronics were also used in air conditioners, tilting steering wheels, diagnostic equipment, voice warning equipment, and bright, easy-to-see digital meters. A variety of new technologies making the vehicle safer, more convenient, and enjoyable were in bloom there. The fact that many foreign visitors were eagerly taking notes seemed to explain that those technologies were probably the ones Japan could boast of to the world. New models in the exhibitors' booths testified strongly of the arrival of a turbo age. Mitsubishi followed Nissan, which started the turbo age, in exhibiting a full lineup of turbo engines from 1400cc to 2300cc diesel. Daihatsu displayed as a reference the Charade De Tomaso Turbo, and Isuzu the Gemini Turbo and Diesel. This turbo boom also influenced the motorcycle industry. Honda took the initiative, and three other companies joined in. Thus, they all displayed turbo models, which became the talk of the young people.

An unusual display was Suzuki Community Vehicle with a 50cc engine. Mitsubishi also announced a prototype of a city car even smaller and simpler than its existing midget cars as a suggestion for minimum transport in the near future. The Matsuda MX-81 was unusual in that air resistance under the floor was reduced.

Recreational vehicles such as minivans and 4WD off-roaders increased in number and kind. Wider variety and more distinct functions were the trend noticed at this show. In the commercial vehicle area, innovations were found in a new model announced by Hino, the Super Dolphine, which was equipped with such advanced technology as full floating electrically operated carburetor and an electronic fuel injection system, the first to be introduced in a Japanese truck.

It was also characteristic of this show that the sluggish midget vehicle ndustry became revitalized. Suzuki, a representative midget vehicle manufacturer, had developed the Alto as both a commercial vehicle and a passenger car two years earlier. The car was priced as low as ¥470,000, and gained popularity as a second car, especially for women drivers, which led to a recovery of midget car sales. This success stimulated other midget vehicle makers. The FF Rex by Fuji Heavy Industries, the Cuore by Daihatsu, and the Minica Econo by Mitsubishi all debuted at once. The makers offered automatic transmissions, unusual in midget cars, to attract women users.

In the foreign car section, Fiat exhibited the Panda with an unusually low price of ¥1,490,000, while Citroen and Peugeot brought in models with Japanese specifications including right-hand steering. Although foreign car makers were positive about entering a new market in Japan, their stalls were not very rousing. Visitor interest seemed to be directed at domestic cars, with their rush of new technologies.

The Theme Hall featured the latest technologies used in automobiles under the title, "Today s Auto Engineering." The 24th motor show thrived as the first show in the 1980s, with the exhibition of 849 vehicles and admissions of 1,114,200.

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