Toyota hasn't had a sports car
in their lineup since the demise of the Supra coupe and the MRS roadster in recent years and they don't like to leave a market segment unfilled. To that end, they are working something more performance oriented. Last January at the Detroit Auto Show
, they debuted a concept called the FT-HS that they indicated was likely hit production in the coming years. A few months later, at the SAE World Congress, there was a panel discussion on the compatibility of performance and efficiency. The conclusion of most of the panelists was that hybrids
provide an ideal way of increasing performance while maintaining the fuel economy
and emissions of smaller engines.
As luck would have it, the Toyota FT-HS did have a hybrid drive-train and it seems a certainty that any production example will have a similar propulsion system. To get the most out of a hybrid sports car, Toyota wants to minimize weight and that means using a lithium ion battery pack. Unfortunately for Toyota, the company seems to be running behind in that area so a new sports car from Toyota is probably at least a few years away. Also unfortunately for Toyota, they may be beaten to market by the new Honda CR-Z
that debuted at last month's Tokyo Motor Show and may arrive in showrooms by 2009.
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]