THE next generation of Toyota sports cars are likely to gain more powerful versions of the Prius powertrain as part of a push towards electrification of all the Japanese brand’s drivetrains.
The car maker announced this week it wanted to expand its hybrid offering, aiming to have a variant with some form of electrification – hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell or full battery power – over the next decade from 2020.
Announcing its move, Toyota said it was aiming “reduce [its] global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90 percent from 2010 levels”, with hybrid electric vehicles playing an important part.
“The HEV line-up will also grow, thanks to the further development of the Toyota Hybrid System II (featured in the current-generation Prius and other models); the introduction of a more powerful version in some models; and the development of simpler hybrid systems in select models, as appropriate, to meet various customer needs,” it said.
It also means performance cars such as the Toyota 86 – already potentially previewed in next-generation form as the targa-topped GR HV concept – would include more powerful hybrid systems that turn up the wick on performance while keeping a lid on fuel use.
Surprisingly, the hybrid-engined GR HV concept features an automatic gearbox with a shift mode that looks very similar to a conventional H-patterned six-speed manual gearbox.
When the front-engined, rear-drive GR HV was launched in Tokyo earlier this year, Toyota was at pains to say it featured a Toyota Hybrid System-Racing drivetrain “that is infused with hybrid technology refined by the TS050 Hybrid [Le Mans race car]”, including a high-mounted single central exhaust system.
Toyota’s announcement also indicates a version of a sports coupe believed to be the reborn Supra, which will be built in top of a platform shared with the folding ragtop-roofed BMW Z5 convertible, is likely to include a hybrid system.
Toyota has already had a false start with battery-fuelled cars after it abandoned plans in 2012 to launch an electric small car, claiming at the time it had misread the market’s appetite for the technology. It instead switched its focus to producing hybrid vehicles.
The brand has already sold around 11 million petrol-electric hybrid-engined cars since it launched the Prius – the poster car for environmentalism – 20 years ago.
Toyota is believed to be on the cusp of launching its own performance sub-brand – via its racing arm Gazoo Racing – and has shown a GR-branded current-generation Yaris that hints that the next-generation small hatchback, which moves to the Toyota New Generation Architecture with its double-wishbone rear axle, will come packing serious performance. An even more hardcore version could wear a “GRMN” badge, a nod to the car maker’s early racing division when it was known as “ Gazoo Racing tuned by the Meister of Nurburgring”.
NGA, which already sits under the Toyota Prius sedan, C-HR small soft-roader and the now fully imported Camry, is optimised for electrification.