Japan’s new jet

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has just released details of a new regional passenger jet which they hope will enter service in 2013 and put Japan on the map for efficient state of the art passenger jets. The plane has already had 25 orders from All Nipon Airways totalling about 60000 million Yen and there is quiet a bit of interest world wide including reports of Vietnam Air and Emirates also very keen to sign up. With seating for between 70 and 90 people the plane is on Friday launched a project to build its first ever passenger jet, a next-generation regional airliner that aims to meet growing demand for fuel efficient planes. There are a few aircraft manufacturers around the world which are trying to get into this lucrative small jet market including Canada's Bombardier, Brazil's Embraer and Chinese and Russian manufacturers, but the Japanese with their track record of affordable, high quality and efficient products might just have the edge they need.

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Toyota’s I-Unit

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The Toyota I-Unit is a ultra compact single seater vehicle which was a cross between a motorcycle and a car, looking a lot like a exoskeleton. The vehicle had adapted shape depending on speed. At low speeds around cities the vehicle was more upright so you were similar height to pedestrians. At higher speeds the pod would lay back giving a more aerodynamic appearance and a much lower centre of gravity. Weighing in at only 180 kilograms the vehicle ran on lithium ion batteries with the rear wheels being run by electric motors. The vehicle was controlled by two joystick devices using drive by wire technology, and an intelligent transport system (ITS) was used so the vehicles could talk to other forms of transport and road markers. One interesting feature was mood lighting, the pod's led technology would change colour depending on the drivers mood. Toyota has stated that it may launch a similar vehicle in years to come- at the moment it is just a working show car. 

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Toyota Automobile Museum – Japan

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The giant Toyota brand origins are around Nagoya in Japan and they have a number of fantastic car and technology museums in the region. The Toyota Automobile Museum in Aichi Nagoya is a huge showcase of the iconic vehicles of the 20th century. The museum features cars from around the world and not only Toyota there are over 120 automobiles all glistening like jewelry in a huge modern showcase featuring 46700 m2 of display. The museum also features children's education area, a automotive library, cafeteria, function and theatre facilities and one of the best auto gift shops around.

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The Cony Guppy Sports- the name says it all

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The Cony Guppy Sports is one of the more unusual of the mini vehicles. Built by the Aichi Machine Industry Co. Ltd in Japan, which later went onto be part of Nissan. The vehicle featured some cutting edge items for its day including four wheel independent suspension, a torque converter for clutches gear box operation, but it didn't quiet have what it needed to catch on, maybe because it just looked wrong or the 11hp two stroke once cylinder engine made it more like a lawn mower. What you can't see from the picture the vehicle is actually a small ute, you could put something about the size of a slab of beer in the back. The vehicle only 5000 units and wasn’t' very popular although collectors will pay good money for them today. This photo was taken at the Toyota Automobile Museum in Nagoya Japan.

The Mazda R360 Coupe

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Today Mazda is one of the leading car manufacturing companies in the world but it wasn't until 1960 when the manufacturer was taken seriously as a car producer with its beautiful R360 coupe. This little vehicle was powered by a rear mounted and air cooled 356 cc engine which put out a whopping 16 hp with top speeds of about 52mph and weighed only 380 kg. The wheelbase was only 69 inches and as the photo taken at the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima shows it was very cute. Production lasted about 6 years, and in that time they did a few major upgrades and even produced a convertible version of the R360 from 1964 and also transformed the vehicle into a light pickup truck, the B360.

Back to the future with the De Lorean

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The De Lorean would have to be the most famous of the whacky cars which went into production. Maybe it was because of it's starring role in the hit movies Back to the Future or maybe just because of what it was. Built in 1981 for 3 years in of all places Northern Ireland the DMC-12 featured gull wing doors, a fiberglass underbody and brushed stainless steel panels. About 9000 of the of the cars were produced at the Dunmurray Factory it is believed over 6000 still exist in the hands of collectors and are cemented as a icon of the 80's. The car has become so popular in recent years DNC Houston announced a few months ago it would bring the vehicle back into production with about 20 being built each year, the first one rolls of the assembly line this year. They will sell for just under $60,000 us and have a few modern touches but all the 80's design cues that people have come to love. This vehicle was photographed at the Toyota Mega Web classic car collection in Tokyo Japan

Cousin IT drives one – and I can see why

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Everyone’s favorite spooky family the Adams Family's weird Cousin It drives a KR200 Messerschmitt and you have just got to look at our photo to see why. It is bizarre! Messerschmitt were a famous German aircraft manufacturer but after the war they were not allowed to produce any more aircraft so they got into the car/bike business. The vehicle had a rear mounted 191 cc Sachs single cylinder two stroke engine and three wheels, and handle bar steering. It had a top speed of just over 60mph with good handling but the brakes were another thing, many needed brake upgrades just to make the machine stop. Later the company made 4 wheel version, and they also made prefabricated houses before being allowed to manufacture aircraft again in 1968. Cousin It wasn't the only celebrity to drive one of these funny little vehicles, the King of Rock n'Roll Elvis Presley also had a red one in his extensive automotive collection. We took this picture at the Toyota Automotive Museum in Nagoya Japan where they have a huge showcase of iconic vehicles.

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The Mazda HR-X2 Hydrogen Concept

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Unveiled at the 1993 Tokyo Motor show and now is on display at the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima Japan, the HR-X2 concept car featured a Hydrogen rotary engine. This car adopted metal-hydride to carry hydrogen fuel safely. Although range was only 150 miles a tank full it was considered a breakthrough with the new hydrogen fuel. The range was affected by the level of safety equipment required to transport the explosive fuel. Performance was as good as a normal family sedan. The body was also an environmental wonder with all of it being recyclable.