Lower turnout, more excitement at Tokyo auto show


TOKYO — The Tokyo auto show finished this week short of the attendance set by the last confab in 2013 but scored big buzz with a barrage of concepts and autonomous-driving discourse.

This year’s show, the 44th holding of the biennial event, drew 812,500 people, down from 902,800 visitors in 2013, said the organizer, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said.

The lower turnout came as organizers aimed to revitalize the show, which was once Asia’s undisputed premier event. JAMA blamed the downturn on bad weather, which kept people home.

On the plus side, people who did show up seemed more satisfied with the event and inclined to come back in the future.

The visitor satisfaction rate reached 91 percent, compared with 87 percent in 2013, and the percentage of them wanting to return to the next show rose to 89 percent, compared with 87 percent in 2013, JAMA said. A robust display by Japan’s domestic automakers, of both futuristic concepts cars and production vehicles, helped drive interest. So did a rekindled presence of overseas brands, which used Tokyo as a stage for production and concept debuts.

Autonomous driving emerged as the unofficial theme as virtually every Japanese manufacturer paraded its vision for a future of self-driving cars and outlined plans to get there by 2020.