Tokyo Motor Show opening day: Japan's Big 3 say 'Who needs the competition?'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

At the opening day of the Tokyo Motor Show, October 21, Japan's big automakers enjoyed all the spotlight as major foreign automakers are totally absent from this year's recession-reduced affair.

Nissan made the biggest splash to open the exhibition as it announced the arrival of four electric vehicles in the next several years.

Their groundbreaking Leaf EV, tiny Land Glider EV and NV200 EV commercial van all made their Japanese debuts. Production is slated for the trio, which comes as something of a surprise with regards to motorcycle-inspired and futuristic Land Glider EV.

The automaker's biggest announcement was that their luxury Infiniti line will get a compact four-passenger EV sedan. No concept vehicle was on display and no other details were given, but it is expected to be a posh upgrade on the Leaf platform.

Making its world debut was Honda's sporty two-seat CR-Z hybrid concept car, which will be sold worldwide in the second half of 2010. The car is Honda's third hybrid, after their hugely successful (at least in Japan) Insight and Civic models.

Not to be outdone in electricity, Honda showcased its EV-N concept, a four-door mini compact with a solar roof panel. Not many details were released about the urban-market car, which drew its retro style inspiration from 1960s Honda models.

Toyota, after wowing the world at the Frankfurt Auto Show last month with their luxury Lexus LF-Ch hybrid and their hoped-for successor to the Prius -- the Auris hybrid, showcased their new FT-86 concept, an all-new car which they hope gives them some much-needed credibility in the fun department. The sporty rear-wheel drive vehicle is slated to run over €26,000 when it arrives worldwide in 2011.

In other gasoline models, Nissan announced their plans for a super-budget car which will replace the subcompact Micra that is sold everywhere but the US. The new Versa, which is already the smallest and cheapest car on the US market, will be 15 percent shorter and even cheaper.

Nissan also showcased an update to their popular GT-R, which will be will be sold in Japan in December and worldwide in the spring.

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