In conversation with Yoshihiro Yano, Executive Director and Secretary General, of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. He is also Director General, Tokyo Motor Show.
What according to you is the most important thing in this year’s Tokyo Motor Show?
Japan has had a long love affair with mobility, with the first vehicles coming in 103 years ago. This is such an old industry. But as things have evolved, new technologies and new ideas have always been the hallmark of the Tokyo Motor Show. In the 45th edition of the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017, I think it is a convergence of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, autonomous driving and making the environment more green which are the focus areas. We are talking about ‘Beyond the Motor’, a whole new initiative where we bring together the best in the world of technology to ensure mobility for all and at the same time, a safer, greener society.
Why do you think this is important?
New generation technologies have made life easier for people, and in the world of automobiles, it should not be any different. Technology should help even those who cannot drive for any reason the ultimate in freedom - mobility. People’s lives can change with autonomous technology and making transportation electric - whether you go in for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric or fuel cell - automotive development can be technology neutral but has to give many options for greener mobility and at the same time provided more options to people. Within 2 years, more than 25% of Japan’s population will be in the 65-70 years age bracket, and mobility should be available for this segment of people as well, and technology is the only way to do it.
By when do you think Japan can achieve these goals?
Today, more than 25% of new vehicles sold in Japan are Hybrids. In our run-up to the Olympics in 2020, I think we should be able to achieve some of these goals. By then, most of our transport and many private cars will run on some form of electrification. We are hoping to demonstrate autonomous vehicles too at that time, especially the ones which will transport athletes and dignitaries. Since the eyes of the whole world will that time be focussed on Japan, I think this will indeed be the correct platform to introduce these advanced technologies. All this is at an advanced development stage. I am confident that by 2030, in Japan, we will be able to have full electric vehicles which will have full autonomy or at least very close to it. That will mean lesser CO2 emissions and a high degree of safety on road. And that for me will mean true mobility.
Besides automobile technologies demonstrated here, how do you think the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017 showcases the future?
It is to demonstrate the future that we have set up the Tokyo Connected Lab in Hall West 4. There are elements here like The Dome, The Maze and many other virtual reality and connected applications, which not only take your feedback about what Tokyo of the future could look like, but also gives you an idea how everything can be connected like buildings, people, vehicles - all with one goal in mind: your safety, your connectivity and the ease of getting you from one point to the other in the best possible format. And this should be possible even if you have limitations like you are not able to drive or have some disability. Mobility is for all, and it is time we started thinking beyond conventional technologies and bring in new technologies. Think Beyond the Motor.
Author: Ranojoy Mukerji is an automotive writer, analyst and hedonist with over 20 years of experience in motoring journalism. He is also a passionate car collector and his hobbies include fine single malt whiskies and cigars.