The Tokyo Motor Show scheduled for this fall will be canceled due to a resurgence of coronavirus infections, Akio Toyoda, chairman of its organizer the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, said Thursday.
The biennial auto show is a major event attracting people and companies from automotive and various other fields, with the last round in 2019 drawing around 1.3 million people. It will be the first cancellation of the event, which was first held in 1954.
"We decided to cancel the auto show, as it seems difficult to offer main programs in a safe environment," Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., said in an online press conference.
Toyoda said the association has considered the possibility of holding the motor show online, but it wanted the event to be held physically.
Meanwhile, China already opened Auto Shanghai, another major motor show in East Asia, on Monday with many global automakers showcasing their latest electric vehicle models.
He also said during the virtual news conference that the auto industry body opposes the Japanese government's policy of banning sales of new gasoline-engine vehicles. "We need to first expand other (technological) options to achieve carbon neutrality. We should follow the right order," he said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in Japan by 2050 and unveiled the goal of making all new cars sold in the country electrified by 2035.
Toyoda said he supports Suga's 2050 emissions-cut target, but argued it should be addressed by the efforts of all industries, including the government's measures to increase electricity generated by renewable sources.
For example, he said the use of innovative greener fuels for combustion engines including biofuels could lead to lower carbon emissions.
Toyoda's remarks point to the cautious stance taken by the Japanese auto industry on shifting too quickly to all-electric vehicles that could affect about 5.5 million jobs related to the sector in the country, as such vehicles without combustion engines need fewer parts compared to conventional cars.
Amid a recent global shift to EVs, Toyota and other Japanese automakers have developed a wide range of electrified vehicles such as hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
Referring to a global chip shortage that has been affecting automakers around the world, Toyoda also said the association has started a study to secure stable supply of semiconductors for Japanese car manufacturers.