Toyota’s FV2 Concept, a four-wheel Segway that wants to be your pal

No auto show produces more oddball concept cars than the biennial Tokyo Motor Show, and with this year's event a matter of days away, Japanese automakers have begun teasing their wildest ideas. Even before the doors open, Toyota has made a strong bid for the crown of strangest wheeled conveyance with this, a vehicle that an owner would ride like a horse — and bond with as well.

Japanese automakers have struggled for years with a society that's increasingly less interested in driving and vehicles and less able to afford them. To fight those trends, those automakers have attempted to find either new, less-expensive vehicles or load their models with the technology their buyers demand at all times.

The Toyota FV2 concept takes those ideas to extremes, essentially imagining a combination of four-wheel Segway and tamagotchi. At rest, it looks like a motorcycle with outriggers, but to move the canopy raises to reveal a standing platform with no physical controls; the "driver" moves the vehicle by straddling the body and leaning, with the motion sensed by the windscreen.

As with some previous Toyota concepts, the body panels of the FV2 can change color or display graphics, and Toyota suggests the software would allow the FV2 to work like a high-speed mood ring. With the FV2, "Toyota envisions an ever-developing driver-vehicle relationship similar to the relationship of trust and understanding that a rider might have with his or her horse." Who could have imagined that some 110 years after its invention, the world's largest builder of automobiles would feel wistful for the animal it made obsolete?