Tradition and innovation at London Japan Car show

Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:38am EST
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By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Traditional Japanese culture meets futuristic technology in a new exhibition at London's Science Museum, opening on Saturday, which provides a glimpse into the transport of tomorrow.

A collection of compact and environmentally friendly cars are exhibited alongside bonsai trees at "Japan Car," presenting the country's ancient traditions against its modern technological advances.

Some of the 14 unusual cars on display are already in use, while others are conceptual models.

They include the Mitsubishi Motor i-Miev -- an emission-free electric car due to be sold commercially from next year -- which can be driven 160 km after being charged overnight using household electricity.

"These models are showing how the car industry is responding to the challenge of a crowded world and teaching us how to work with an environment under pressure," said Andrew Nahum, principal curator of technology at the Science Museum.

"Having something small does not mean settling for less and that's a really interesting message for all cities of the world ... Japan is solving the problems the rest of the world is only just waking up to."

Among the more futuristic models featured is the Nissan PIVO2, a three seater car whose central cabin, mounted on four independently controllable wheels, rotates 360 degrees -- handy for those who struggle with reverse or parallel parking.

The Toyota Motor Corp i-REAL, a "personal car" or scooter which looks like a high-tech armchair on wheels, is also on display.   Continued...