If you hadn’t heard, the Japanese are not shy about embracing the future, and the Tokyo Motor Show is featuring electric vehicles on board also with a broader global agenda.

That agenda is to eventually supplant petroleum power, and though admittedly that destination looks a long way off from here, the way the public is fixating on it, and automakers are rushing to make it so, they could get there quicker than some imagine.

While no one knows what tomorrow holds, today expressions of the automotive art indicate an expansion of creative flair to flesh out an near-future vehicular world that runs on electricity. Here are a few notable examples:

Honda Sports EV Concept

Further positive evidence Honda is not only about super-efficient regular hybrids and fuel cell vehicles is its Sports EV Concept which follows on the heels of its Urban EV Concept shown at Frankfurt in September.

The low-slung two-seat coupe merges something old and something new with design language hinting of the S600 of the 1960s, older Civics, the Urban EV, and includes artificial intelligence.

Urban EV.

A neo-retro look is in itself not new, but Honda’s interpretation blends sporting imagery with flared fenders, traditional round headlights with LED halo effect. Powertrain details remain scarce, and may not at this stage matter, though it may be that batteries are in the floor, and range would be enough to satisfy the need should the company decide to build it.

And for all anyone knows, it may, as it’s cut from the same cloth as the Urban EV whose production version is due as soon as 2019. At any rate, Honda’s goal is to explore making EVs more fun, not that “fun” examples don’t exist already, but the visceral thrill of internal combustion cars remains a legacy many traditionalists are loathe to let go of.

Having built its own history on fantastic engines, Honda is one of them, but with regulations on the horizon, it’s embracing the future with a concept vehicle it hopes will minimize any tendencies toward a sad backward glance of good old days.

As such, the Sports EV is billed as “a concept model which combines EV performance and AI (artificial intelligence) inside a compact body with the aim to realize the joy of driving the user can feel with a sense of unity with the car.”

Nissan Leaf Nismo

The demand for more visceral thrill has also reached the ears of Nissan’s corporate boardroom, which after introducing its 2018 Leaf in September, is looking to make a racier version.

Updated by its Nismo sub-division which is more often known for giving the sporting treatment to truly hot internal combustion models, like the GT-R, the Leaf Nismo loses the sleeper look, shouts “I’m fast,” and may back it up to a point.

That will be good too, as the Chevy Bolt EV may still be quicker out of the box, even in plain Jane styling, but the racy Leaf promises sport-tuned suspension, stickier tires than the low rolling resistance units on the main car, and a re-tuned computer.

Said computer will give “instant acceleration at all speeds,” Nissan, said, meaning more juice used, so one may hope it comes with the larger battery than the present 40-kWh unit driving the 147-horsepower donor car.

Inside, the Leaf is strategically trimmed with red accents highlighting a sporting interior decor, and outside, the Leaf is stylized to reduce lift (and just look more aggressive) along with sporty wheels.

Details on price and whether it will be available in North America have yet to come forth, but it appears this one is headed for production.

Nissan IMx Concept

Utilizing Nissan’s latest EV platform and a “future version” of its ProPILOT autonomous technology, the IMx crossover is a high-powered, all-wheel-drive lounge on wheels.

One could only imagine how many Tesla Model X’s you’d have to trade for this one-off beauty, but included on the standard features list is a steering wheel that retracts because human drivers are strictly optional.

Once underway, the occupants could enjoy a fun experience of a different sort for the vehicle pumping 429 horsepower and 516 pounds feet of torque with a claimed 373 miles of range on a charge according to a more-liberal measuring standard than that of the U.S. EPA.

Here “fun” could be having a conversation while the car does all the driving, or catching up on texts, or watching a YouTube video of people driving cars, or something else that catches the occupants’ fancy.


All the while, they’ll be ensconced in a funky spacious interior behind suicide doors and beneath a panoramic glass roof. Design details inside include a wood-grained interior, and laser-engraved katanagare patterns on the seats.

When not in use, the vehicle connects to the grid and can serve if needed as a “virtual” power supply once the energized occupants are away from the mobility solution.

At this stage a design exercise, without plans for production, the vehicle shows what can be done, and what may trickle into cars to come as the market weaves inexorably toward the future.

Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept

For those of you in North America who’ve longed for Mitsubishi’s Outlander plug-in hybrid that was promised at least five times but never arrived, the e-Evolution Concept is the follow-up to the truck you never had, and may be worth the wait.

A concept for now, the AWD vehicle faces a more hopeful future than did Mitsubishis of a couple years ago, as the company is now partnered with Nissan and good news for EV fans is it was always bullish on plug-ins.

This particular example features three high-torque motors comprised of a single one for the front, and in the back there’s a new Dual Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) system pairing two rear motors through an electronically controlled torque-vectoring AYC unit.

Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) vehicle dynamic control system is also employed as is Artificial Intelligence to help the driver navigate the rugged trail on the way to the campground or Ikea.

“We aim to provide vehicles that fulfill our customers’ desires through outstanding design, combined with the power, authenticity, and carefully-considered functionality Mitsubishi Motors is known for,” said Tsunehiro Kunimoto, Mitsubishi global design head.

Power and range data, along with production intent are for now on hold. As is becoming the norm, expect if it does make it to production, sufficient range and performance to match demand for more.