Toyota showed off the new FT-1 performance concept at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show today, and the obvious story angle is that this is the new Supra. That's enough weight for most concept cars to carry, but then we thought about it a bit more - FT-1 stands for "Future Toyota 1," after all - and re-read the hints Toyota is dropping about how the FT-1 fits into the company's future. Put all the pieces together, and we think there's a chance Toyota's hybrid models are about to get a whole lot cooler.

Technically, the FT-1 is an EV, but that's just because all it has for a powetrain is a small battery and motor to move it around on stage. This concept doesn't even have a proposed powertrain, but a production Supra could have any number of powerplants under the hood (V6, V8, hybrid and inline-six are all mentioned by Automotive News). We also like the big red start button on the steering wheel, which owes at least a little to the blue start button in the Prius. What we're more interested here is what this sleek red beast could do for the look of Toyota's hybrids.

The FT-1 could change how Toyota designs cars in the future.

To make the FT-1, Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, apparently challenged Toyota's Calty Design Research team to create a car with passion and "a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement." Instead of making design decisions "by consensus among a large group of stakeholders," the company says "the [design] approval process has been streamlined. This new approach aims to produce cars that connect more deeply with customers." There was a sense in Detroit today that the FT-1 heralds a change in how the company designs cars in the future.

The FT-1 is apparently not the result of Toyota's hybrid supercar partnership with BMW, but we know that Toyota isn't a total stranger to a high-performance hybrid category, having built the TS030 hybrid Le Mans race car. For an on-road gas-electric from the company, though, we're much more used to the egg-shaped Prius. While Toyota has backed off a 2003 pledge to make every model a hybrid, it has said that it wants gas-electrics powertrains to proliferate throughout the line-up. And, if the FT-1 previews a new Toyota look, then at least some of those hybrids will benefit from some of the good looks on display in Detroit.

Toyota USA's national manager of environmental, safety and quality communications, John Hanson, wouldn't confirm anything, of course, but he did tell AutoblogGreen that he's been asked countless times about a hybrid sports car and just sort of shrugged with a raised eyebrow when we became the latest to do so. It's too early to know for sure what the FT-1 is trying to tell us, but we're willing to raise our expectations for future Toyota hybrids just a little bit because of it.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Days Ago
      Looks like a drag queen mated with an ant eater & this was born
      • 2 Days Ago
      I really didn't get the FT-HS concept and hated it, but now that they refined it into the FT-1, it looks awesome.
      • 11 Months Ago
      These images would be great if they had a driver in the car.
      • 11 Months Ago
      That looks badass. Unfortunately literally none of that will make it into production. I count at least eight US government safety violations starting with the front bumper. But hey, it's concept - they're allowed to go wild with imagination.
        • 2 Days Ago
        You know, I tend to think that with today's technology in materials and engineering ( especially in crumple zones ) that an extended nose could be no more hard to make a functional part of the energy absorbing structure than any other part of a modern vehicle's front end. We should be at the point now where materials allow us much more freedom in combing "wild" design with safety standards.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Oh! This needs a turbocharged H-6 engine from Subaru to keep the Cg low and an electric motor @ each corner for mega acceleration!
      • 11 Months Ago
      Side profile is GORGEOUS. This has F12 Berlinetta and SRT Viper all over it and that is definitely cool - especially for Toyota. But the odd front end and exhaust pods out back have me a little curious. Keep the proportions and the curves. Dial down the crazy front end and some of the rear and we'll have ourselves a really pretty car.
      • 11 Months Ago
      I think the one from a few years back looks better.
      • 2 Days Ago
      HUGE "nose" makes this an ugly car, continue your ugly streak Toyota!
      • 11 Months Ago
      Akio Toyoda is going to be the savior of the company
      • 2 Days Ago
      Looks like something out of a futuristic movie. Would love to see it in production just like that.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Please keep it a twin turbo inline 6, but make it a hybrid. Show people what a real "power adder" is. This is the perfect opportunity to utilize electric motors to fill in the power band gap known as "turbo lag."
      • 11 Months Ago
      Plastic surgery on the nose, keep the ass, PLEASE keep the retractable rear spoiler, insert powerful inline-6 with KERS - aim for GT-R, Viper and C7, pull trigger...that simple, Toyota...
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