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Green cars rule Tokyo Motor Show, but eyes turns to China

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Honda Motor Co. said it will start selling an electric version of its Fit subcompact in the U.S. and Japan by the middle of next year. It showed concept cars such as the AC-X plug-in hybrid, EV-STER electric roadster convertible and a tiny electric car called Micro Commuter

"We will continue to offer products with an edge," said Honda President Takanobu Ito before drinking orange juice poured by Honda's Asimo robot, which recently has gained more nimble human-like fingers.

Honda showed a portable battery that people could carry around and put not only in their electric cars and plug-ins but also in small electric scooters.

Nissan Motor Co. had an updated version of its futuristic-looking electric car called Pivo 3, which can drive itself, find parking spaces and swerve around in almost a complete circle.

Koichiro Imoto, who writes about Japan's auto industry, says overseas interest in the show has plunged, except for a handful of manufacturers like Volkswagen AG that do good business in Japan.

"Technology is the only thing Japan has to cling to so the show is trying to highlight those strengths," he said. "Selling the technological superiority is the only way left for Japan."

Toyota President Akio Toyoda was outright emotional at his presentation when he said Japan was going through hard times after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Japanese automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., were forced to scale back production as parts suppliers in northeastern Japan were damaged.

That battering was followed by a smaller but similar problem when suppliers got hit by flooding in Thailand, Toyoda said.

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