Tokyo Auto Salon 2018: the parts!
For our last look at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2018, we check out some of the latest trends and technology that were shown at this year’s show, and to whet the appetite and imagination of those embarking on a make-over for their cars this year.
Since our time was limited, we went with Jeff Tan of Excellar Enterprises, the exclusive Philippine distributor for Recaro, Akrapovic Exhausts, BBS Wheels, Vorsteiner, Prodrive Wheels, and TWS Wheels to see what’s new.
Vorsteiner is an American company with manufacturing spread throughout the world. The company specializes in sport wheels, usually for European and exotic car fitment, plus vacuum-bagged dry-carbon fiber body kits.
At the Tokyo Auto Salon, Vorsteiner had a huge presence. The company displayed its lineup for the newest European sports cars from Audi, Lamborghini and BMW in particular.
The company sees the business of modifying luxury cars and exotics as continuing to grow in the years to come, driven in particular by maturing tastes in the United States, followed by a growing western-style trend for tuning exotics and European as well as other large luxury cars in Japan and the rest of Asia.
At the TAS 2018, the company had a huge line of new and shiny carbon fiber body kits as well as forged and flow-formed wheels.
Recaro is perhaps the most well-known aftermarket and motorsport seat manufacturer in the world.
The big news is the unveiling of their all-new RMS2600A shell seat for motorsports. The seat alone in carbon fiber weighs a scant 2.2 kg, and promises to be lighter, stiffer (anywhere from two to six times depending on existing current shell seat models), and crucially, more comfortable for long distance endurance racing.
I had asked why comfort was a huge factor, and the Recaro reps said that race car drivers need to be very comfortable so they can focus on their driving while sustaining their energy levels for longer periods of time. Endurance racing requires drivers to stay 2 or more hours flat-out for racing.
Ventilation holes are cut out in the back to improve cooling and comfort as well as promoting circulation of both blood and air to keep the driver comfortable.
The seat also offers a far wider range of adjustment to suit many drivers of various heights and sizes.
BBS Wheels might be a German company, but all their forged, high-end motorsport wheels and multi-piece wheels are actually made in japan, because Japan has one of the best foundries and forging techniques in the world.
Just look at a samurai sword: a real work of art, very light, very sharp and highly effective.
The same can be said with BBS’s forged wheels. The company utilizes duralumin, a special aluminum alloy, to produce the lightest, die-forged road-legal monoblock forged wheels wherein the solid forged duralumin billet (for certain models) is placed on a special press and forced through a pattern to create a solid, one-piece monoblock wheel.
The BBS RI-D is arguably the lightest aluminum-alloy wheel in the world that is road-legal. A single 19×12-inch BBS RI-D weighs below a scant 20 pounds.
A typical wheel of the same size is over 30 pounds. Reducing unsprung mass (that is, weight not supported by the suspension such as wheels, tires and suspension components) has a factor of eight, meaning its similar to removing sprung weight eight times over.
By removing roughly 40 lbs of unsprung weight by changing your wheels to BBS RI-D, that’s equivalent to removing 320 lbs of sprung weight from the chassis or engine.
Aside from making very light sport and motorsport wheels, BBS also manufactures a lot of forged and lightweight OEM wheels for Porsche, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Bentley, and the upcoming Ford GT.
If BBS is good enough for OEM, then it’s good enough for you and me.
Prodrive Wheels is another venerable Japanese wheel manufacturer. They didn’t have anything much to show, but rather, bigger sizes of the same design, which goes to show where the industry is headed: bigger, wider wheels to suit the new generation of larger, and unfortunately, heavier performance and luxury cars.
Nonetheless, their wheels are as iconic as ever, and thankfully available in larger sizes as well as a myriad of colors.
Another high-end brand we checked out was Akrapovic. The story goies that the founder, Igor Akrapovic, wanted a unique sounding exhaust system for his motorcycle, being a motorcycle enthusiast and racer.
After searching far and wide, he discovered in his native Slovenia that cheap exhausts were of poor quality, while equipment used by professional teams were too expensive.
Igor designed his own exhausts to be thin-wall, light-weight and with excellent fitment.
Today, thanks to titanium technology, Akrapovic exhausts are the lightest yet best-sounding exhaust systems fitted to a variety of motorcycles and cars worldwide.
These aren’t for everyone, as cost has now ballooned due to the extensive use of titanium, but they are super lightweight and sound really good, without the droning, mind-numbing noise when cruising on the highway.
The company has won almost 40 world championships on tow and four wheels, and supplies the Porsche Carrera Cup, a Formula 1 team, Kawasaki and BMW, to name a few corporate clients.
Our last stop was at the TWS booth. TWS or Tan-Eisya Wheel Suppy has been manufacturing wheels for a variety of other brands for many years, but only now have started to produce their own wheels featuring their own designs and under their own brand.
Now under the Osaka Toyopet Group, TWS supplies motorsport wheels to F1, Le Mans, various touring car race teams, and of course Japan Super GT Championship.
The company manufactures forged wheels for road use and motorsport using a variety of materials, from aluminum-alloy to magnesium alloy wheels.
The Pagani Huayra BC on display at the TWS Group, as well as the Lexus LC500 and Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, were all shod with custom-made forged TWS wheels, and were all supposedly owned by the big boss of TWS and OTG.
Must be nice to have lots of money. My favorite wheel, ironically from the TWS booth, was the Kingsclaive Wheel for the Audi R8, which was seen on the sci-fi anime movie Final Fantasy XV a few months prior. Being a Japanese fan, anime fan and car fan, this was perfect!
Obviously there were more parts on display, but given the limited time we had, this was all we had access to and could cover.
Hopefully next time, we can give a bigger, broader coverage of the parts made available at Tokyo Auto Salon. Until next time.