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Toyota focuses on hybrids for U.S., puts sports cars on back burner


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From the Mark I inline six-cylinder with just 110hp (82kW) to to the twin-turbo Mark IV with 320hp (239kW), Toyota's Supra remains a legend in the world of high-performance sports cars. But since 2002, the brand has made a strong move away from the image of the Supra and towards the Prius's green vision. Toyota's North American operations are now moving even farther along that path, putting more emphasis on hybrid output and effectively shelving plans for a Celica/Supra rebirth.

Toyota's FT-HS concept, shown in 2007 at the Detroit Auto Show, had revived hope that Toyota still retained some of its former interest in providing vehicles that were more than just transportation appliances. But Toyota Division general manager Bob Carter recently told Automotive News that hybrids would be moving to center stage in the U.S.

"It is just a re-prioritization of where we think the customer is today and where the customer is going to be 24 and 36 months from now," said Carter. Sports cars, on the other hand, are not even in the periphery. "Personally I would love to have a sporty car, but it is pretty clear what the market is looking for right now."

It's no surprise that Toyota is after the mainstream consumer, or that sports cars don't make much business sense, but it's still disappointing to enthusiasts and fans that had hoped against hope for the return of one of the Japanese giants.
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Comments (8)
  1. So shocking, oh wait, no it isn't
     
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  2. looks like a pruis+350z only drawn with straight lines
     
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  3. Hmm! Toyota and Honda have shelved plans for their upcoming sports cars. Nissan however replaces the 350 with the 370 which is no slouch and will definitely give the Europeans and domestic muscle cars a run for their money! Also they bring back the king of all Japanese sports cars the GT-R/Skyline.

    I cant put my finger on how big a mistake this is but it is a mistake. I'd say we're all witnessing that rare moment in the industry where Honda and Toyota both get it wrong and the underdog run by a French Man gets it right!!
     
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  4. The Celica still is in the Toyota family lineup. The difference from 2005 Toyota decided to call it the Scion TC. There is only so much room for sporty coupes in the line-up and Scion was suppose to be the fun and sporty Yin that balances out Toyota's bland and reliable Yang.
     
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  5. Who cares about the Celica? The Celica hasn't been a sports car since the '80s when it abandoned RWD, with minor exception for the AWD GT-Fours. Though I would've liked to have seen a Supra rebirth, it would be a poor time to build a high priced niche-market flagship. Besides, with Toyota's current design language, it would've been ugly. Don't believe me? Look at their recent sporty concepts(the one pictured above, LF-A, etc). Oh well, at least we still have the Subie engined, RWD Corolla to look forward to(for now at least).
     
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  6. The Celica has been dropped for years, you can buy a used one, but there are no new ones, that car was ended in 2005.
     
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  7. I think Toyota's American marketing research team is misconstruing some sales figures. This wouldn't be the first time they screwed up judging the public interests(*cough* Project Genesis *cough* Scion). The large majority of people trust Toyota, so buying a hybrid from them seems like not too dangerous of a leap. Plus, thinking of a hybrid, people generally believe that a company like Toyota would take extra time and care to build each vehicle, so the extra money for the car is worth it. All of this doesn't mean that the Hybrid market is going to boom soon, it means people will buy an upper end, technologically advanced Toyota.

    The fact that the Prius sold so well is counter-intuitive proof of this. Would people buy the newest hybrid technology from Honda or Toyota? Well, the 1st gen Insight shows that people prefer Toyota. If you think the Insight design looked bad, the Civic Hybrid shows that people prefer Toyota. Perhaps the Civic was too small or too expensive? The Accord Hybrid and Altima Hybrid shows that people prefer Toyota.

    Oh Toyota America, stop telling people where the market is headed and just make cars like you used too.

    (P.S. I'm a diehard Toyota fan. I will defend any vehicle they have ever released... except for anything after 2002...)
     
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  8. Woahhhh this is ugly.
     
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