Carwatchers watching Tokyo

Arguably the Tokyo Auto Show is now more important than the one that opens the calendar year in Detroit. And the show in Tokyo opens officially on October 21, so that means all the competitors are busy seeding the blogosphere with their hints and leaks and hype.

Arguably the Tokyo Auto Show is now more important than the one that opens the calendar year in Detroit. And the show in Tokyo opens officially on October 21, so that means all the competitors are busy seeding the blogosphere with their hints and leaks and hype. There will be some news in the electric and hyrbid car competition with nearly every major carmaker now in the market or on its way soon. Subaru is going to show off its first-ever hybrid. It will be the four-passenger Tourer with its gull-winged doors. Also on display will be Nissan's four-door Fuga which will be sold in standard gas-engine form in Japan this fall and as a hybrid next fall.

Subaru Tourer. Photo courtesy Subaru. MITSUBISHI THREE-ENGINE CAR Another newsmaker at the show is likely to be the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV. It is a plug-in with separate electric motors for front and back axles, plus a four-cylinder gas engine that can supplement axle drive or simply serve as electricity generator. In a clever green move this Mitsubishi can shunt power back to the home if it's plugged in, and the electricity grid moves toward peak use. So you can plug it in during hot summer days while you're on vacation and it won't draw power when everybody else turns on their air conditioners. A little bit of smart grid on wheels. Besides its green Leaf, Nissan will show off a Land Glider. This 2-person, ten foot long, plug-in car is aimed at the urban, short-drive market. It looks much like an enclosed go-kart. Here's some video on you-tube. So Nissan may not be big in hybrids like Honda and Toyota, they are aiming seriously at the all-electric market. Many non-Japanese auto makers are skipping the Tokyo show this year to save money. All the new models and launch dates of plug-ins can be as confusing as the opening rounds of Wimbledon or the NCAA basketball regionals. So here's a clear summary of where the promised and on sale plug-ins stand. RELATED AUTO POSTS Earlier Tokyo show preview. GM to sell cheap electric car in India. Despite overall auto sales slump in U.S., Ford hybrids have good September. EPA's efficiency ratings on all 2010 models sold in U.S. for all makes and models.

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