It's all about zero-emission cars at this week's Tokyo Motor Show. With no US and European car manufacturers present, all eyes will be on Japanese car manufacturers, many of which be displaying their electric concept cars.
Toyota - the world's biggest car maker by volume - has said it aims to launch an electric vehicle by 2012 and will display a new version of its electric concept car, the FT-EV II, at the show. And from Honda there's the EV-N, a cute electric concept car that can store a one-wheel personal mobility device inside its door.
At the Tokyo Motor Show Nissan will also put its electric car, the Leaf on display to the public for the first time. The medium sized hatchback, which will go on sale in late 2010 in Japan, is billed as"the world's first affordable, zero-emission car." It can travel more than 160 kilometres (100 miles) on a single charge, at a top speed of 140 kilometres per hour.
Nissan will also show off a futuristic electric concept car that leans to the side when going around bends. Just 1.1 metres (3 feet 7 inches) wide, the Landglider (pictured) seats two people, one in the front and one in the back. Inspired by motorbikes and glider aircraft, it has tilting wheels that enable it to lean by up to 17 degrees.
According to estimates from JP Morgan, hybrid vehicles are estimated to account for about 13% of global sales by 2020 but electric cars will represent just 1% or 2% in that year. "What electric cars have a problem with is lack of a network of charging facilities like the current gasoline stations," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said at a luncheon meeting at the Japan National Press Club earlier this month.
Meanwhile back in the UK, transport secretary Lord Adonis has announced that the North-East is to benefit from the installation of up to a thousand electric charging points over the next two years, writes Paul Ridden.
Locations in Gateshead and Newcastle have been earmarked for the roll-out which is due to kick off in the coming months. Some of the forty points that will initially appear next to public buildings and shops, on kerbsides and in car parks as part of the pilot scheme will be free, with others requiring users to pay an annual subscription for unlimited use.