Impossibly Futuristic Cars from the Tokyo Motor Show

We've seen the future, and it is wonderfully weird here's 24 photos to prove it

Every two years the automotive industry gathers in Japan to show the world its visions for the future of transportation. The Tokyo Motor Show, historically the coming-out party for the most audacious of vehicle designs, encompasses five massive buildings and more than a million square feet. It presents a prismatically varied glimpse of the cars and motorcycles that may grace your garage in the years ahead. This year, fuel-economy and safety were the main themes, with a host of new hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles being debuted, but there was also a dash of whimsy, as with Honda's canine-friendly WOW concept.

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Daihatsu UFE-III concept

UFE stands for "Ultra Fuel Economy," and this car delivers the name's promise. The UFE-III returns more than 170 miles per gallon thanks to a 0.168 coefficient of drag-the lowest in the world-and a hybrid powertrain comprising a three-cylinder direct-injection engine and two electric motors. Its clamshell-opening roof is pretty cool too.

Suzuki P.X concept

Suzuki bills its new P.X concept as "the ideal compact minivan in which to chill out and enjoy the ride." But the car's machined-aluminum look and slit windows say something completely different: perhaps "the ideal compact minivan in which to transport prisoners." For that, though, one would have to swap out the interior. In its current trim, the P.X features white leather Recaro seats and a center console designed to hold champagne flutes. Whatever the purpose, this uncharacteristically bold design is both unexpected and welcome from Suzuki.Joe Brown

Honda WOW concept

Dogs across the globe have been barking for years for a canine-oriented car-or at least that's what Honda seems to think. The WOW concept features a pee-resistant wood floor (well, it stands up better than carpet), a glove box small-dog holder, and a crate that pops up from under the second-row seats to accommodate a more substantial Rover.Joe Brown

Mercedes Benz F 600 Hygenius concept

Mercedes is adamant that the F 600 is not a concept car but rather a research vehicle: This fuel-cell hybrid actually runs. Featuring a dehumidifier that keeps the fuel cell from icing up in subzero weather and an electronic turbocharger that gets more air into the fuel-cell stack, the Hygenius boasts 115 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It can travel up to 250 miles on a tank of hydrogen. The F 600 can run off its fuel cell, its lithium-ion battery or a combination of the two. The cup holders are also fuel-cell-powered; they draw energy from the hydrogen stack to heat or cool your beverage.

2007 Honda Goldwing

Starting in spring 2006, Honda's flagship motorcycle will be available with the world's first motorcycle airbag, able to inflate in 0.06 second and fully absorb the rider's forward energy in 0.15 second (less time than it takes to blink an eye). This innovation represents a major advance in motorcycle safety.Joe Brown

Yamaha Deinonychus concept

Taking advantage of two in-wheel motors to free up space around this electric motorcycle's frame, Yamaha installed a pair of electrohydraulic pistons that work in concert with extendable front forks to allow this bike to change its shape based on application. Fully extended, the pistons lengthen the chassis for cruising; when compressed, the pistons pull the wheels closer together and increase ground clearance for off-road tomfoolery. The two rocket-booster-looking canisters on the back are batteries, and the Deinonychus is designed to accommodate up to four of them depending on whether the rider would rather skim weight or ride for longer.Joe Brown

Volkswagen EcoRacer concept

Volkswagen's intention with this concept was to create a no-compromise sports car that is gentle on the environment. To keep weight down and stiffness up, VW developed a new carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic that is employed in both the body panels and frame. The mid-mounted four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is a lightweight 1.5-liter model that produces 134 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This power plant, paired with VW's renowned DSG dual-clutch transmission, propels the rear-wheel-drive EcoRacer to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 144 mph. Oh yeah, it can get up to 78.9 miles per gallon.Joe Brown

Mitsubishi Concept X

More than a concept car, the Concept X is a prototype for the next generation of Mitsubishi's storied Lancer Evolution. The styling speaks for itself-evocative of the past while definitely grown-up-but Mitsubishi did the talking with some uncharacteristically specific details about what will propel the next Evo. Like its forbears, the Concept X gets its motivation from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but it features a sequential manual gearbox for quicker shifts and a new computerized 4WD system that integrates advanced braking, steering and suspension systems.Joe Brown

Mazda Senku concept

Possibly a design study for the next RX-8, the Senku is, like Mazda's flagship, a four-seat sports car. And in the company's tradition of weird doors, it features a minivan-esque sliding side door to give rear passengers easy access. The compact dimensions of the Senku's direct-injection rotary hybrid power plant allowed its designers to bump up interior space.Joe Brown

Honda WOW concept

Dogs across the globe have been barking for years for a canine-oriented car-or at least that's what Honda seems to think. The WOW concept features a pee-resistant wood floor (well, it stands up better than carpet), a glove box small-dog holder, and a crate that pops up from under the second-row seats to accommodate a more substantial Rover.Joe Brown

Suzuki Ionis concept

In a show dominated by fuel-cell concepts, the Ionis is Suzuki's offering. The exterior's design conveys "an image of water through its generously proportioned curves," and the interior features ebony floors (because logging exotic hardwoods is so eco-friendly).Joe Brown

Mazda Senku concept

Possibly a design study for the next RX-8, the Senku is, like Mazda's flagship, a four-seat sports car. And in the company's tradition of weird doors, it features a minivan-esque sliding side door to give rear passengers easy access. The compact dimensions of the Senku's direct-injection rotary hybrid power plant allowed its designers to bump up interior space.Joe Brown

Audi Shooting Brake concept

Following the tremendous success of its A3, Audi is showing renewed interest in the sporty-but-functional hatchback segment. The Shooting Brake is the application of Audi's next-generation design philosophy to that area. Packing the same 250hp V6 as the TT, the Shooting Brake concept can reach 60 mph in six seconds. It features ceramic brakes and a magnetic suspension system whose magnetorheological fluid's viscosity can change based on the amount of electric current applied, so depending on the driving situation, the Shooting Brake can ride as soft as a Caddy or as firm as, well, an Audi.

Nissan GT-R Proto concept

Since its introduction seven years ago, the Nissan Skyline GT-R supercar has ruled the streets of Japan with a high-performance fist. If looks are any indication, the next iteration, previewed in the GT-R Proto concept, will extend this reign. With a bold front end that shows a clear family resemblance to the 350Z and a muscular flared rear that evokes the previous generation Skyline's design language, the GT-R Proto is, without a doubt, the most fearsome-looking car in attendance at the show. Performance stats are not available yet, but dollars against yen says they'll be impressive.Joe Brown

Nissan GT-R Proto concept

Since its introduction seven years ago, the Nissan Skyline GT-R supercar has ruled the streets of Japan with a high-performance fist. If looks are any indication, the next iteration, previewed in the GT-R Proto concept, will extend this reign. With a bold front end that shows a clear family resemblance to the 350Z and a muscular flared rear that evokes the previous generation Skyline's design language, the GT-R Proto is, without a doubt, the most fearsome-looking car in attendance at the show. Performance stats are not available yet, but dollars against yen says they'll be impressive.Joe Brown

Suzuki P.X concept

Suzuki bills its new P.X concept as "the ideal compact minivan in which to chill out and enjoy the ride." But the car's machined-aluminum look and slit windows say something completely different: perhaps "the ideal compact minivan in which to transport prisoners." For that, though, one would have to swap out the interior. In its current trim, the P.X features white leather Recaro seats and a center console designed to hold champagne flutes. Whatever the purpose, this uncharacteristically bold design is both unexpected and welcome from Suzuki.Joe Brown

Suzuki Ionis concept

In a show dominated by fuel-cell concepts, the Ionis is Suzuki's offering. The exterior's design conveys "an image of water through its generously proportioned curves," and the interior features ebony floors (because logging exotic hardwoods is so eco-friendly).Joe Brown

Honda FCX concept

Honda switched to a vertically-oriented fuel-cell stack (which means that the hydrogen-generation process progresses from the top down) and refined the system to make it 40 percent smaller than its previous generation. Because of the significant amount of space they require, fuel cells are generally located under a vehicle's floor; Honda's small, vertical configuration allows the stack to reside in the center of the car, taking up about the same amount of space as a transmission tunnel in a conventional vehicle. The result is a more spacious interior and a low-slung stance that sharply contrasts with the mini-SUV look of most fuel-cell vehicles.Joe Brown

Yamaha Gen-Ryu concept

Equal parts bike, torpedo and art deco rocking horse, the Gen-Ryu features a 600cc inline four-cylinder gas engine paired with a high-output electric motor to equal the performance of a 1,000cc machine. The rigid aluminum body and long wheelbase are designed to enhance handling. A host of safety features, such as a rear-mounted CCD camera and LCD screen and a cornering light system, boost the rider's safety.Joe Brown

Nissan Pivo concept

The Pivo was built as a showcase for Nissan's new electric-car technologies. With a drive-by-wire system that requires no mechanical connection between the driver inputs and drive system, its spherical cabin is able to rotate 360 degrees. The Pivo's compact, powerful motor and high-capacity lithium-ion battery will probably find their way into Nissan's future electric- and hybrid-car endeavors.Joe Brown

Toyota Fine-X concept

Toyota's second-generation fuel-cell vehicle, like the Mercedes Benz F 600 Hygenius, is a fuel-cell hybrid, able to run off its battery, fuel cell or a combination of the two. Unlike the Hygenius, however, the Fine-X features four independent wheel motors and four-wheel steering. And even though Jabba the Hutt could easily roll in through its cavernous gull-wing door, the driver's seat swings out for easy entry and egress.Joe Brown

Lexus LF-SH concept

After Mercedes wowed the crowd at Frankfurt with the unveiling of its new S-Class sedan, Lexus did the same on its own home turf. The LF-SH concept is Lexus's next flagship sedan, and it is a worthy answer to the S-Class while remaining true to its Japanese roots. The rear-wheel-drive concept sports a gas-electric hybrid V8 with a combined 600hp, and the company promises that the production version will as well.Joe Brown

Honda WOW concept

Dogs across the globe have been barking for years for a canine-oriented car-or at least that's what Honda seems to think. The WOW concept features a pee-resistant wood floor (well, it stands up better than carpet), a glove box small-dog holder, and a crate that pops up from under the second-row seats to accommodate a more substantial Rover.Joe Brown

Suzuki Ionis concept

In a show dominated by fuel-cell concepts, the Ionis is Suzuki's offering. The exterior's design conveys "an image of water through its generously proportioned curves," and the interior features ebony floors (because logging exotic hardwoods is so eco-friendly).Joe Brown