October 7, 2009

Toyota Unveils FT-86 “˜Green’ Concept Car

Following months of speculation, Toyota unveiled its sporty, new FT-86 concept car for the first time on Tuesday.

Dubbed by some the "Toyobaru", the FT-86 concept is a joint development between Toyota and Subaru, and based on the Subaru Impreza.  The rear-wheel drive FT-86 coupe uses a Subaru 2-liter boxer four engine that gives the car a low center of gravity and an aggressive, low-profile hood.

Conceived in 2008, the new FT-86 is said to handle like a race car, while being less damaging to the environment.

Calling its vision of the future "mean and green", Toyota unveiled the cherry-red concept car, which will go on display this month at the Tokyo Motor Show from October 24 through November 4.

The company is seeking to rekindle some of the 1980s enthusiasm for its Corolla AE86.

"Everyone thinks sports cars won't sell but there is a huge demand, particularly among middle-aged men who have fond memories of the Corolla 86 and who would like to drive it once again," the AFP news agency quoted Toyota engineer Tetsuya Tada as saying during a preview of the FT-86.

"When green cars become prevalent, consumers will choose brands that offer something extra."

Toyota also plans to display a new version of its electric concept car, the four-seater FT-EV II based on the Toyota iQ, during the Tokyo Motor Show.

The vehicle uses lithium-ion batteries and can reach speeds in excess of 62 miles per hour.  At less than 10 feet long, the car has solar panels on its roof and can be easily recharged at shopping centers or at home.

Toyota has said it hopes to launch an electric car in the United States by 2012.

"We think the time is almost ripe for cost levels, batteries and performance to evolve one step further," Akihiro Yanaka, who oversees the FT-EV II project, told the AFP.

Japan's Mainichi newspaper said Tuesday that Toyota and Subaru-maker Fuji Heavy Industries were looking at partnering to develop electric vehicles that could hit the market within the next decade.

Toyota declined to comment on the report.

Toyota's competitor Nissan plans to launch the world's first mass-produced electric car sometime next year.


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