Mitsubishi Teases What Looks Like A Kei Car Concept And A Turbine-Powered Dune Buggy Concept For Tokyo

The Tokyo Motor Show is coming up, and it usually doesn’t disappoint when it comes to fun concept cars. It looks like Mitsubishi is getting in on the fun this year, teasing two interesting concepts. One appears to be a sort of electric off-road dune buggy sort of thing, and the other is a Japanese-market-only Kei-class concept.

Let’s look at the dune buggy-like thing first. Mitsubishi calls it the Mi-Tech Concept, and describes it like this:

MI TECH CONCEPT embodies the values of MMC’s Drive your Ambition*3 brand message under the concept of “An electric SUV that delivers unparalleled driving pleasure and confidence over all terrain in light and wind”. A new downsized and lighter plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) drivetrain, a 4-motor electric 4WD system, and advanced driver assistance and active safety systems are condensed into this small electrified SUV concept.

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It’s odd to think of a vehicle this small and with such a minimal body as an SUV, but I suppose Mitsu is working with a broader definition than we tend to use here in the land of near-ubiquitous free soda refills.

The concept is electric, using two motors per axle, effectively one per wheel, a setup that allows for fantastic torque vectoring control and eliminates the need for differentials.

Also interesting is that this is planned to be a hybrid, but instead of a conventional reciprocating engine, they’re planning a turbine:

“This PHEV system is optimized with light and compact unit for this small size SUV, and a gas turbine engine-generator is equipped instead of the general gasoline engine-generator. This provides the driver to use pure-electric driving mode and series hybrid modes, and delivers the smooth and powerful performance characteristics inherent to electrified vehicles.”

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Wow. A turbine! Those haven’t really been in vogue since the ‘60s, but why the hell not, right? Have at it! I bet it makes a satisfying whine as it runs.

Is this always door-less and roof-less? Will it be as dune-buggy-like in person? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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The next concept is very idiosyncratically Japanese, as it appears to be designed to fit into Japan’s Kei-class of vehicles, a special very small class of car that is free of certain fees and regulatory requirements compared to conventionally-sized cars.

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Kei class rules stipulate a maximum engine size of 660cc and power of 64 horsepower, though it’s not clear if this concept is intended to be electric or not.

Mitsubishi calls it the Super Height K-Wagon Concept, and here’s what they have to tell us about it:

This new-generation Super Height K-Wagon Concept answers the wishes of those drivers looking to expand their list of destinations and going further towards to the horizon.

Super Height K-Wagon Concept features the roomy interior space as its standard of the genre while delivering the performance and functionality expected in this category. And, the SUV-taste design shows its Mitsubishi-ness.

This concept car delivers nimble handling and brisk performance while maximizing living space. It also offers reassurance and safety to all occupants with MI-PILOT - the driver assistance technology for highway driving in the same-lane, forward collision mitigation braking, mis-acceleration mitigation and other advanced active safety systems which earn it SAPO CAR (Safety Support Car) S Wide classification from the Japanese government.

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The fundamental design here—large box on tiny wheels—is a very tried-and-true Kei car formula, one that maximizes interior volume for a minimum exterior size.

I like Kei cars a lot, and concept Kei cars really only appear at the Tokyo motor show, so they’re to be really savored and enjoyed.

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This is a pretty sleek looking Kei, and it looks like Mitsubishi is doing some interesting things with the lighting design, as well as the level of driver assistance, which seems advanced for a Kei class car.

I’m excited to see these in actual, real lighting soon. Too bad the date these, or, really, anything like these, are likely to head to America is somewhere around the neverteenth of Notgonnahappenber, 20forgetit.

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Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)