It's hard to imagine Toyota-rich, powerful, profitable-worrying about anything. In truth, Toyota worries about everything. That's the difference between the company that's about to become the world's number-one automaker and...General Motors. And the wild-looking coupe you see here, the FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept, is an especially worrisome car for Toyota.
Built as Toyota's Detroit show star, the FT-HS is designed to showcase Toyota's leadership in hybrid powertrain technology. Underhood is a next-generation performance hybrid system built around Toyota's punchy 3.5-liter V-6 and capable of delivering approximately 400 horses. Performance targets include a 0-to-60-mph time in the 4.0-second range. Among the benchmark cars shown by Toyota during the FT-HS presentation were the Ferrari F430, Porsche 911, and Chevy Corvette.
Concept planner Chiharu Tamura says the FT-HS is a vision for a 21st-century sports car: a sports car that's eco-friendly and fun to drive; a sports car as fast as a Ferrari, yet as fuel-efficient as a four-cylinder compact. Were this not a Toyota engineer talking, your hyperbole meter would probably be hitting redline right about now.
The next-gen hybrid system is the key: In this system, braking energy is stored and can be released as what Tamura-san calls "explosive power" out of turns. He won't go into detail, but it's likely the system uses a combination of a lightweight lithium battery pack and capacitors. The battery pack provides the longer-term energy storage as used in Toyota's current Hybrid Synergy Drive vehicles, while the capacitors allow split-second discharge of large amounts of energy, perfect for delivering "explosive power." The trick is managing and integrating the various power flows-engine, battery, capacitors-so it feels seamless to the driver.Read More