Tokyo Auto Salon 2011 – It’s Not a Car Show

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TommyKaira 2011 GT-R
After a little thawing out from the Tokyo trip I’m glad to get back to blogging. We covered a lot of ground on this last trip to Tokyo but I’ll start off with some Tokyo Auto Salon perspective.

Every TAS there are popular cars that we see more of than others. The popular cars are usually a combination of new cars and cars that tuning shops feel will represent a big/profitable audience and customer base. Much like 2010 SEMA was Camaro dominated, 2011 TAS was dominated by GT-Rs and CR-Zs this year.

Many people internationally seem to be frustrated that there were very few S2000s, Evos and STis and 370Zs represent at TAS. Although I feel their pain since I would have liked to see that as well, it is a good reminder that TAS is not a car show it is a trade show. There simply is not much innovation happening to S2000s, Evos, STis and 370Zs in the past year. No business minded company wants to spend a lot of money for an expensive booth to showcase a badass car that has not seen anything significantly new in the past couple of years. At the same time, most companies can’t justify investing 50k-100k if not more to develop a line of parts for those platforms because they cant make a return on their investment. Innovation takes new clients with cash in hand, unfortunately there are not a lot of clients with money ready to buy new parts for those models at the moment…if there were then supply would pick up to meet demand.

Much like last year with the heavy tuning market speculation on the Honda Insight and Prius (and every tuning shop seemingly having those in their booths), this year’s speculation car is the CR-Z. All companies need to bet on a hot new car and the CR-Z was this years bet. Personally, I feel it is a far safer bet than the Honda Insight which I think everyone can agree did not yield an enthusiast tuner market and was dead on arrival.

The CR-Z is already proven to be highly potent as displayed by Top Secret and HKS’s evolving time attack battle. Both companies have bolted on turbos and completed well balanced tunes that have transformed the already capable platform. It also helps that the CR-Z happens to look quite good. As a result, the only thing stopping the success of a great CR-Z tuning movement is the depth of the pockets of CR-Z owners and the gap between dreaming about a Top Secret or HKS tuned CR-Z and actually owning one. Time will tell how effectively dreams turn into reality for CR-Z owners freshly inspired from the show. We will certainly do our part on Bulletproof’s end to cost effectively and efficiently get the best parts like those into owner’s hands.

The R35 GT-R continues to remain the definitive hot tuner car. Although not all is what it seems on the surface… There are two key challenges to the seemingly endless aftermarket parts hype for R35s in Japan. 1. The fact that still almost nobody in Japan is tuning their GT-Rs due to the restrictive overseeing fist of Nissan’s domestic dealer and service network. 2. There are very few GT-Rs in existence relative to the insane number of tuning parts on the market. This means a saturation of aftermarket parts and a lot of companies who will move very few units as the love is spread thin across so many competing solutions for owner’s attention.

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