Teaser for 2014 Toyota TS040 Hybrid Le Mans prototype (LMP1 )
Today, the Japanese automaker released the first photos of the TS040, although they don’t reveal all that much. The car sticks with a gasoline-electric drivetrain but now there’s an electric motor on the front axle, making it a through-the-road hybrid, much like its Audi R18 e-tron quattro and Porsche 919 Hybrid rivals. Yes, unlike the rear-wheel-drive TS030, the TS040 will benefit from all-wheel-drive traction. The TS040 Hybrid stands apart, though, due to its V-8 engine. In contrast, Audi is utilizing a turbodiesel V-6 and Porsche has gone with a four-cylinder mill.
Toyota has selected an Aisin electric motor/generator for the front axle, in combination with a DENSO unit at the rear. Under deceleration, the two motor/generator units apply braking force in combination with traditional mechanical brakes to generate energy, which is transferred via a DENSO inverter to a Nisshinbo super-capacitor. During acceleration, the motor/generator units reverse their function, acting as drive systems to deliver a significant power boost.
Toyota’s TMG motorsport skunk works in Germany was once again responsible for designing, developing, manufacturing and building the chassis. TMG says the new chassis represents a major evolution on the TS030 design thanks to advanced aerodynamics and lightweight design. As the teasers reveal, the TS040 appears narrower; this is due to 2014 LMP1 regulations that call for 10-centimeter narrower cars.
The TS040’s first public appearance will come at the WEC official test session on March 28-29 when it will take to the track alongside the prototypes from Audi and Porsche for the first time. More details will be released prior to the test.
For the third consecutive year Toyota will field two cars in the WEC, with Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin all returning as drivers.
For Toyota, participation in the WEC is fundamental to its leadership in hybrid technology. The TS040 Hybrid, like its predecessor, also serve as a real-life test bench for the automaker’s technology, which it plans to transfer to production cars, some of which are almost certain to be performance-oriented.