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Steering wheels could vanish

The system also frees space in the dashboard for better use of minor controls

Honda is working on a push-pull lever system that takes the place of a traditional steering wheel and installed it on its concept cars for the Tokyo Motor Show, led by the EV-STER electric-powered sports car.

The open-topped headliner is the ideal showcase for technology although Honda also has it in a tiny 1+2 city runabout and the AC-X long-distance tourer.

Not just that, but it says the system makes an open-wheel racing car a full 0.36 seconds a lap faster at its Suzuka grand prix track.

The Twin Lever Control (TLC) system looks like it could have been morphed from a computer gaming controller but the man in charge of development at Honda says it's actually the result of research into the most ergonomically effective way of operating a car's steering.

"Even though they are the gaming generation, our notion for TLC did not come from the Playstation. It is intended to be more user friendly. It accurately facilitates the ability of the driver. The lever type is in line with the motion of people," the creative director at Honda Design in Tokyo, Yoshinori Asahi, tells Carsguide. 

The system also frees space in the dashboard for better use of the minor controls and the display of information on a see-through panel which acts as a projector screen.

Asahi says Honda is developing its TLC system for eventual production, although he refuses to give a solid timeline. "We pursue what is a good feeling among people. It is food for thought. We are working for production."

Asahi says one of the biggest hurdles to changing from a steering wheel could be legislation, since all drivers currently pass their license test using a car with a wheel.

"There are some legal issues we have to overcome," he admits. Apart from the TLC steering system, the big breakthrough in the EV-STER is a weight loss program that means, thanks to extensive use of carbon fibre, it has sports car performance with a range of around 160 kilometres."