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Toyota FV2 steers, moves and brakes by 'lean'

Toyota FV2 concept futuristic three-wheeler pod car.

Toyota is showcasing its vision of the future with five new concept cars and an updated 86 convertible concept at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Leading the charge is Toyota's FV2 – apparently 'fun to drive' -- concept, which is a showcase of technology focusing on creating an intuitive connection with the driver. Inspired by the relationship between riders and their horses, the futuristic three-wheeler pod car uses face and voice recognition to detect the driver's mood and learn their driving style.

It is fully customisable and boasts an augmented reality screen but has no steering wheel or pedals. Instead, the driver leans from side to side to steer, and backwards and forwards to accelerate and brake –  making for a similar experience to a Segway.

A second concept, the sleek FCV gives an insight into a possible future form for fuel cell technology – in which air and water is transformed into electricity to power the car's motor, instead of it relying on stored energy in batteries.

The FCV design is inspired by the transformation of elements in the fuel cell technology, and Toyota hopes to bring a similar vehicle to market by 2015. The carmaker says the concept can drive for up to 500kms before the tanks need to be re-filled, but unlike batteries, the refill process takes about three minutes.

The Aqua G concept is a very sharp looking Prius C tuned by GAZOO racing. The hybrid electric drive remains, but sports suspension, 17 inch alloys, a unique body kit and interior modifications turn the mild Prius into a sporty prospect.

For those visiting Japan in the future, Toyota has a new concept van that previews a replacement for Japanese taxis. Unimaginatively christened the JPN Taxi, it shares with most Australian taxis the fact that it runs on LPG. However unlike most of our taxis the JPN taxi focuses on a well appointed interior, with an information screen for customers, electric sliding doors, and practical interior ideas to enhance passenger comfort.

For the second time this year, Toyota has also taken the roof off the 86, with a soft top concept. It looks to be a slightly more production ready version of the concept shown earlier at Frankfurt, but Toyota says the FT-86 Open is a design study only. This revives debate about when – or whether -- a production soft top 86 will happen, with Toyota recently announcing it was shelving development for the time being.

But the working soft top and production ready interior in the FT-86 Open concept headed for Tokyo show that the car won't need much more development to hit the showroom floor.
With a next generation MX-5 under way -- and keen to re-claim its dominance in the sports car segment, after the 86 stole its crown as the affordable sports must-have --  Toyota may just be waiting for the right timing to go topless with the 86 and keep up the pressure on Mazda.

Closing off Toyota's Tokyo Motor Show concept car line up are the Voxy and Noah people mover concepts. Based on a common platform, the two vans are full of clever packaging solutions that maximise interior space. They will have a petrol and hybrid drivetrain when they reach production, but are unlikely to ever be on sale at Australian showrooms.