FB Update: Aqua / Prius by Noblesse

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Aqua Prius by Noblesse

JDM Tuner Noblesse got their hands on a Toyota Aqua/Prius C.  What do you guys think?

This post has been rebroadcast from our Facebook fan page.  To see similar updates, visit us at http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm.

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FB Update: Tommykaira for Prius

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Tommykaira for Prius

Tommykaira continues their development of tuning options for the Prius…

This post has been rebroadcast from our Facebook fan page.  To see similar updates, visit us at http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm.

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Axell for Lexus CT200h

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For those looking for a good aero kit for the new Lexus CT200h, we’re distributing for Axell out of Japan. Here’s their next upcoming kit.

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Making The Prius Cool

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TommyKaira Prius Tommy Kaira

I look at this picture of TommyKaira’s latest version Prius and I can’t help but think that it looks cool! It is surprisingly difficult to use the words cool and Prius in the same sentence.

Surely all of the ducting is not needed or practical but from purely a visual point of view TommyKaira has managed to make the Prius actually look exciting! At the moment the Prius tuning movement has had trouble spreading to the US. With so many people driving blandly designed hybrids like the Prius I’m really surprised that more people arent stepping up to turn that practical daily driver into something really special and not simply just practical.

For many Prius owners the primary purpose of the Prius is not simply Eco meaning Economical but Eco meaning Ecological. There are more millionaires driving cars like the Prius than any other car in it’s price range. The Prius has always carried a social message of green. All I’m saying is green and responsible does not need to be dull. New cars like the Fisker and Tesla are proving that point and I still believe there is hope for the Prius as well. To me, this picture proves that point.

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You Can’t Have It – Japan Innovates Again and We Lose

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In the past, Japan has typically been perceived as a bit ahead of the game with respect to technology. However, in the last few years the US has been closing the gap, and most people would argue that currently, we’re pretty much on par.
However, today I was paging through the newest issue of Option (their 400th!!), and ran into the new Defi Sport NV!

Defi snv-trial0-100goal

The Defi Sport NV is by far the coolest, most feature-packed portable navigation system ever!!

The main features include:

A set of electronic gauges with analog and digital modes with peak warning settings:
• Tachometer with 5,000/7,000/9,000/11,000rpm adjustable scale and a shift light
• Speed meter that reads up to 400km/h (250mph)!!
• Voltmeter
• Trip meter
• Average speed

Trial mode:
• Road course maps
• Data Logging which can be saved via a micro SD card slot
• 0-100km/h (60mph) times
• 0-400m (1/4mi) times
• Analytics


GPS Navigation


1seg – Japan’s mobile digital audio/video and data broadcasting service that many commuters in Japan typically utilize via their cell-phones to watch TV on the go. (Super cool or as the Japanese say kakoii!!!)

Media Player that allows playback of picture, movies and music via downloadable data and via a micro SD card

The most interesting aspect of the Sport NV is “Eco Mode.” It’s essentially a series of “gauges” that track driving habits like how many times the engine is turned on and off, engine idling time, and average speed. It then uses these times to calculate a score via a special points system.

The electronic gauges can also be viewed like this:


It’s what I call “edamame mode;” a little soybean pod that uses each round bean as incremental counters for each “eco level.” It kinda works like the little “Smart Gauge” that Ford has on their hybrids, where the more carefully you drive (read consistently low RPM), the more the bean pod grows. The worse you drive, the worse the sky background gets, and the edamame withers.

There’s also a tree version of this mode that works similarly, but for idling duration. The Smart NV automatically switches over to this mode when the engine sits idling for 10 seconds. The longer you idle, the worse the sky looks, and the more leaves disappear from the tree:


The Smart NV is definitely the best, and only (that I know of) option for those enthusiasts that also care to stay on the green side of things when they’re not hot-rodding it.

Unfortunately, as has been traditionally the case with cool Japanese electronics, there are no plans to sell the Sport NV outside of the land of the rising sun… Which is really sad indeed because if they were sold in North America, I’d buy one of these babies in a second!!!

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The Transition – Discussion Shift From Vintage JDM To Eco JDM

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I came across this picture from our archives and it made me think about the transition…The transition from our last blog post (the flawless old school Z) to what I want to write about next (Eco tuning) is what this picture represents…but also it represents the old and the new of JDM tuning which are both celebrating new heights of popularity at the very same moment in time. Granted the two cars are totally incomparable, but if i had to isolate two prominent themes of Tokyo Auto Salon 2010 it would be nostalgic car tuning and eco tuning. These two massively contrasting mediums of JDM tuning are what made TAS 2010 most different from previous shows.

So what about Eco Tuning? Well, there is one point in particular that I wanted to share. Often I learn profoundly interesting things in meetings with my friends and suppliers over in Japan. Although I wont say the particular company or the person in this case, there was an interesting perspective mentioned in private that I feel is worth mentioning publicly with my source being anonymous.

I asked my friend quite honestly what he felt about Eco tuning. His booth happened to feature a newly tuned Eco (hybrid) car so I felt he would have some perspective on where that trend is headed. This particular guy’s company, much like many other Eco tuning firms has its roots in sports car tuning. I suspect his perspective is comparable to those like ASI, Top Secret and the countless other well respected tuners who after years of tuning sports cars are now playing with the Prius and the Insight.

So I started off by asking what he thought about Eco tuning because of his new demo car. His response was not terribly enthusiastic about the demo car, but his response led to the overall impression that he feels that Eco tuning is an important part of the future of the industry. I said that I understood and agreed that it was a smart decision to produce something that would be a part of the next wave of tuning. But then I asked him how Eco car tuning is doing right now in Japan. His response was that he did not see many tuned Eco cars on the roads, almost none actually.

Then the “ah ha” moment of the conversation was revealed…

I asked him…if you don’t see tuned Eco cars on the road then why is it that Auto Salon was filled with tuned hybrids everywhere I looked? How could it be that the most popular trend at TAS of tuned hybrids is so far off from the current demand (or lack thereof for hybrid tuning). I was honestly shocked that he had a tuned hybrid car in his booth AND that everyone else seemed to have one as well, and here he was telling me that at the moment that very few people are buying parts like this at the very moment that people like myself are led to believe that they are becoming massively popular in Japan!

He then went on to explain that this is how trends are started. Essentially the situation is that collectively all of the tuners in Japan are betting on the Prius and Insight to be an important part of their future (based primarily on car sales data). If the industry feels that those are the popular cars, then the consensus is that if the entire tuning industry gets behind those cars that they’ll be able to influence the habits of the owners to modify the cars and a new segment of the industry will be launched.

Essentially I look at it as the entire Japanese aftermarket trying to jump start an industry from scratch. They are trying to build enough cool demo cars, and enough awesome parts that they will convince a new market to form based on the sheer collective effort of the aftermarket.

This concept goes against my traditional understanding of a business’s duties being to fulfill demand and instead shows the aftermarket’s optimism and brute force of creating demand rather than fulfilling it. I can’t lie though, it does work when it comes to JDM tuning.

Think about it another way.

Did you want to buy a 370Z even more than before after Amuse came out with that Vestito aero kit? I sure did…

And the first time I saw the Ericsson kit and exhaust for the M3, at that moment I lusted after an M3. Before that I admired the M3, but after that all I could think about was buying one! And the examples go on and on, hell I want a S30 Fairlady after Rocky Auto convinced me!  I don’t think that any of us can deny that actual desire (demand in business terms) can be jumpstarted by the industry if amazing parts and complete cars are created.

It is for this same reason that the FT-86 was revealed at TAS already heavily modified. Intelligent car companies are embracing the aftermarket to make their cars more lusted after and cooler! So here, the story of TAS to me is seeing the entire collective aftermarket giving a big push forward to the sexiness and appeal of the Insight and Prius in hopes for successfully launching a new category of tuning which the industry desperately needs to stay healthy long term (keep in mind, the industry cant survive on out of production Supras, Silvias, etc forever).

So wrapping up…it was a fascinating lesson on what happens when the entire Japanese aftermarket seems to rally around a concept and to create a new style of tuning and a new demand out of essentially thin air. It might sound crazy, but based on what I’ve seen in the past I think it may just work. I know I’ve had thoughts about cruising daily in a Tommy Kaira Prius after seeing that car at TAS…So at least I can say that its working on me!

PS: I’ll feature more Eco cars that I felt were cool later on. I wanted this post to be more conceptual about this important discussion on the power of persuasion and the unity of the aftermarket in Japan to rally around the singular goal of launching a new style of tuning.

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Honda Insight Aero Tuned – Random Snaps In Japan

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Honda Insight Aero Tuning JDM

I  find myself to be in the minority when it comes to the use of car pictures…I almost always find the rear of tuned cars more fascinating than the front. Despite knowing that is wrong from a media perspective, (magazines almost always feature the front of the car primarily), I rarely care about convention and I find myself almost always featuring a rear shot first and a front shot later on. Most of the cars I’ve had a hand in building I also prefer the rear to the front as well (my S2000 for certain I prefer the rear profile over the front).

This Insight is no different. The rear on this Route KS aero kitted Insight is just nuts. That is one seriously aggressive rear bumper, complete with multiple air outlet ducts and a very intensely finned rear diffuser. As much as I must acknowledge that the Prius and the Insight have a strong place in the future of JDM tuning, I’d be lying if I didnt say that I wish we were talking right now about a next Generation Supra, AE86, S2000 or just about anything more interesting than eco cars. Oh well…

Honda Insight Aero Tuning JDM

The front bumper is not too shabby either. Overall this kit is somewhat well done for the type of kit that really should not exist in the first place. When it comes to making really slow cars look really fast, this is quite a nice attempt. Unfortunately you and I still know the car is really slow.

Picture Source – ASI Japan

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