Going green in Tokyo

TOKYO. I bet a good few of you reading this page will have been to this city.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s my first time here, I&rsquo;ve been itching to go for years and finally I find myself staring out of my 28th floor hotel room and across the sprawling metropolis that is Japan&rsquo;s capital. In the more densely populated part of the city, main roads are built atop each other, on stilts, weaving around the high-rise towers and out across the water, great feats of engineering.<br /><br />Cars shaped like boxes on wheels are everywhere &ndash; the city car like Nissan&rsquo;s popular and quirky Cube arriving in the UK towards the end of the year, is a huge seller here. But this week is all about the EV &ndash; Electric Vehicle. I&rsquo;m here at the 41st bi-annual Tokyo Motor Show to see what Japan has in store for the future and am being hosted by Nissan. Enter the Land Glider, a concept that looks ripe for production.&nbsp; <br /><br />This is a zero-emission mobility vehicle- cum-motorcycle, specifically designed for those in the urban sprawl. It measures two metres long and just over one metre wide.&nbsp; The two-seating arrangement is designed in tandem fashion with a glass canopy overhead. The clever part comes during cornering. The LG offers a new three-dimensional driving experience with leaning/tilting while cornering. Almost like flying a plane.<br /><br />Motion comes from two electric motors in the rear powered by lithium-ion batteries mounted beneath the floor.<br /><br /><strong>LEAF AND FOREST</strong><br />Next up is the five-seater EV &ndash; LEAF as it is currently named &ndash; for a first-drive at Nissan&rsquo;s Yokohama plant. Nissan&rsquo;s plan is to have specially allotted charge zones for the EV in cities and at shopping malls.&nbsp; And to make life easier, you will be able to download an app to your phone via a Nissan EV centre and an alert text will be sent to you when your LEAF has reached full charge. How handy is that? Nissan is also researching the possibility of non-contact charging and the prospect of nice smells circulating the cabin while in traffic. Leaf and forest, developed so far, are note perfect. Find your inner Zen.<br /><br />Over at Honda, the FCX Clarity, launched in Europe recently, is the world&rsquo;s only hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in production, a full test to come to this page soon. (Availability of hydrogen is still a problem.) Its six-person Skydeck was for me the best-looking hybrid at the show &ndash; a stunning looking car with scissor front doors and rear doors that slide back. Genius. Finally there was the CR-Z, a hybrid sports car which offers potentially sharp driving dynamics while remaining frugal in fuel and emissions.<br /><br />Lexus is putting its gorgeous &pound;343,000 LFA into production, with a 4.8 litre V10 upfront. Competing with Audi&rsquo;s A3 and the like, the petrol-electric LF-Ch hatchback is confirmed for production in 2011. Mitsubishi showed us the PX-MIEV, another plug-in hybrid based on its SUV Outlander with consumption return claims over the 100mpg mark.<br /><br />The British Lotus is also here, Japan being its third biggest market. With it was the Stealth, a super-lightweight Exige offering 260bhp, a perfect track day weapon. But the show was really all about the battery driven near-future. What struck me was a new dawn of design for environmentally friendly cars. Amen to that.<br /><br />Nissan&rsquo;s Cube &ndash; boxes on wheels are popular in Japan.<br /><br />Carlos Ghosh with a Nissan Land Glider<br /><br />Mitsubishi PX &ndash; MIEV<br /><br />Honda Skydeck<br /><br />Nissan Leaf