Tokyo Motor Show and More!

By Makoto Arahata, Overseas Business Manager, Japan LPG Association

The Tokyo Motor Show 2011 was held from 2nd to 11th December in Tokyo under the theme “Mobility can change the World” demonstrating that indeed, Automobiles are much more than just transportation. Automobiles today can offer solutions to important issues such as our environment, safety and energy.

Many Japanese motor companies and foreign motor companies participated in the Tokyo Motor Show 2011 and displayed more than 400 latest vehicles and products. It was announced by the organizer after closing the show that the number of visitors to the Tokyo Motor Show 2011 was 852,900 during 10 days and ended with great success.

Smart Mobility City 2011

To demonstrate this year’s theme, an exhibit called “Smart Mobility City 2011” was organized within the venue to showcase the next-generation of automobiles and the social systems within which they interact. This exhibit highlighted the roles and the responsibility of automobile manufacturers and automobiles because of the growing concern for the global environment and its resources.

The aim of “Smart Mobility City 2011” is to look at the big-picture implication of what Japan’s “Next Generation Auto Strategy” would bring about and how the automobile can evolve in response to global concerns. This was conveyed by showing the contribution of the automobile to future topics like “smart communities” from which low-carbon societies would emerge through solar power generation, regional energy control and so forth.

The Japanese LPG Industry Participation

LPG is a low carbon fuel, a versatile and an immediately available alternative fuel to help mitigate global warming. In Japan, LPG was reaffirmed as convenient and ideal as the distributed source of energy after the recent disasters. LPG, for example, is expected to play an important role in the Japanese energy mix as an ideal fuel for hybrid-applications.

“Smart Mobility City 2011” was a first-class opportunity for us to present the advantages of LPG and the benefits of LPG vehicles to the general public.
We were one of the 35 exhibitors of “Smart Mobility City 2011”, including METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Agency for Natural Resources and Energy), General Motor Japan Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Mazda Motor Corp. and Keio University. The motor companies exhibited mostly electric vehicles.

We told visitors in our presentation that the innovated LPG vehicles are globally accepted as highly ecological vehicles and will become one of the important elements of the “smart community”. We also offered people a “test ride” of advanced LPG vehicles of three types including LPG dedicated Mazuda Axela and the Mitsubishi minivan.

With 200 people in attendance, we held an open seminar on 8th December in one of the conference rooms to explain the challenges in promoting LPG vehicles on the Japanese market. In order for a complete understanding, we took the European model of the OEM LPG vehicle as an example, and explained the successful growth of Autogas markets both in Europe, particularly Turkey (read more here on Turkey), Germany and France (click here for more information on France) and also Korea. We used these examples as a backdrop of what we need to do here in Japan to be more successful.

We displayed a Hyundai station wagon i-40 that was supplied for the European market and converted to a bi-fuel type passenger vehicle (using the European OEM model) and with a European advanced conversion kit. We call the station wagon Hyundai / i-40 / GDi-LPG and displayed it together with innovated LPG products including ENE-FARM, a fuel cell for residential-use to present how LPG can contribute to make our community environmentally friendly and energy efficient through LPG hybrid applications in line with this theme of “Smart Mobility City 2011”.

The LPG vehicle displayed was extremely popular with the visitors and we received excellent feedback on it. This is encouraging for LPG looking forward!

Challenges for the Autogas Market in the Future

In order to grow the Autogas market, we need to draw the private motorists’ attention to LPG vehicles and provide them with LPG vehicles that meet their requirements. To do so we need to offer the private motorist more stylish vehicles and more LPG vehicle line-ups with the warranty package matching the vehicles running on petrol.

It is expected that Hyundai /i-40/GDi-LPG with its European kit will garner a first-rate reputation from the Japanese private motorists when the vehicle becomes available on the Japanese market. This vehicle is equipped with a toroidal fuel tank in a spare tire bay in a boot to keep enough space.

This LPG vehicle, a truly international vehicle, comprised of a Korean vehicle, a European OEM kit and European toroidal fuel tank will become a typical success model, because we believe that it has what the Japanese converted vehicles have not had. Therefore, we displayed this model in the hope of catching more attention from the private motorists present.

From this model, our industry will learn how to create an attractive LPG vehicle and secure satisfactory quality of converted vehicles. The Hyundai / i-40 /GDi-LPG model is not yet marketable in Japan, because the Hyundai / i-40 model needs to be approved by the Japanese government. Secondly, the toroidal LPG fuel tank needs approval as well. (The Toroidal LPG tank has not been approved in Japan and is therefore not on sale here at this time).

WLPGA as the Platform for the Global LPG Industry

At our booth we displayed the “Exceptional Energy” logo and the videos to give the visitors the powerful message of Autogas in Europe!

Last but not least, we would like to take this opportunity, to express our gratitude for your cooperation. Thanks to the cooperation of our colleagues, the members of WLPGA, we could introduce visually how Autogas is appreciated in Europe to the Japanese people. The power of these visuals helped us get the LPG message across to the Japanese visitors.

For more information on Autogas in Japan, please contact Makoto Arahata by email: m-arahata@j-lpgas.gr.jp