In announcing on Tuesday Toyota’s commitment to future seasons of the World Endurance Championship, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, company president Akio Toyoda dropped a major hint that Toyota might be working on a hybrid sports car utilizing technology derived from the company’s Le Mans prototype race cars.
“This year, I went to Le Mans for the first time and heard people cheering for Toyota,” Toyoda said in a statement. “I also heard many people saying that they would like to see Toyota come out with a hybrid sports car like our cars in the race.”
He then went on to say, “I, too, would like us to produce just such a car, and I think it would be one that would help make cars fun for the next 100 years.”
The comments were made just days after Toyota released the teaser for a concept car built to demonstrate how the latest technologies developed for motorsports, namely the WEC, could be incorporated in something resembling a road car. The concept, whose name is GR Super Sport, also brings attention to Toyota and Gazoo Racing’s new GR performance sub-brand. The reveal will take place next month at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon.
While the GR Super Sport concept might not make production, it’s clear Toyota wants to inject some of the technology honed in motorsports in road cars. As Toyoda explained, Toyota isn’t racing hybrids purely to build more fuel-efficient cars, but also more fun-to-drive cars.
“Not only did we want to heighten environmental performance in terms of fuel efficiency and such, we also had a very strong desire to create hybrid cars that made drivers feel that driving is fun, and that made them want to keep at it and want to let the cars keep on going,” he said.
The most likely scenario will see Toyota offer a hybrid option on its modern-day Supra due in 2018, something that’s been rumored for some time. The technology should then filter down into other Toyota sports cars like the next-generation 86 and a potential entry-level sports car. The news shouldn’t come as a surprise as Toyota on Monday said it will no longer develop cars that don't offer vehicle electrification.