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Frankfurt show: Toyota to reveal Hybrid-R concept

Green light: Toyota will unveil a concept at the Frankfurt motor show, which uses technology developed for its Le Mans racer.

Toyota set to unveil sportscar concept featuring Le Mans-bred hybrid technology

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Toyota logo9 Aug 2013

By TERRY MARTIN

TOYOTA will reveal a new high-performance hybrid sportscar concept at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

The global hybrid car pioneer announced last week that it will take the covers off “an exciting new concept for road and track” that will feature the same Toyota Hybrid System-Racing (THS-R) technology used in the TS030 racecar.

In a follow-up release this week, Toyota said the concept, dubbed Hybrid-R, would be based on an existing production model – possibly Yaris – and that it “combines a low-capacity, high-power internal combustion engine with electric motors to give a combined maximum power output of more than 400hp (300kW)”.

While the technology is said to be based on the TS030, it comes with the addition of a dual-mode control designed to make it suitable for both the racetrack and the road.

No other details are forthcoming at this stage, but the technology could form the basis of an all-new hybrid sportscar being developed in collaboration with BMW, and has set enthusiasts’ tongues wagging about the prospect of a reborn Supra returning to Toyota’s line-up.

The Yaris-like teaser image puts a dampener on the latter, although Toyota has recently confirmed that ‘Supra’ is one of the names under consideration for the eco-oriented, rear-wheel-drive performance flagship to spring from the project with BMW.

The German and Japanese car-making giants signed an agreement in July last year to jointly develop a new sports model as part of a planned expansion of engineering ties that also includes co-operation on electric powertrains, fuel cells and lightweight vehicle design.

Notwithstanding the successful 86 coupe created with Subaru, Toyota has acknowledged that its strength lies more in developing environmentally friendly hybrids than high-performance vehicles, hence the alliance with BMW which progressed further in January as a binding agreement that commits to a bigger mid-size sportscar, the platform for which is to be completed by the end of this year.

Toyota is supplying hybrid and fuel cell technology for the vehicle, while the BMW Group’s key contribution to the project is described as “efficient, highly dynamic premium vehicles”.

This could see the lightweight carbon-fibre ‘LifeDrive’ architecture underpinning the forthcoming i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, further details of which were released last week, providing the basis for the new Toyota sportscar.

Placing second behind Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro hybrid at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, the TS030 racecar features a 395kW 3.4-litre normally aspirated petrol engine and a 223kW hybrid system with supercapacitor storage developed by team partner Nisshinbo.

In the early stages of its development, the racing team tested a front motor system produced by Aisin AW and a rear motor set-up developed by Denso. It eventually went with the latter.

The electric motor providing drive to the rear axle is positioned between the engine and gearbox, and delivers the 223kW boost automatically.

Energy is recovered under braking from the rear driveshaft and stored in the supercapacitor located in the cockpit. Under race rules, the vehicle can recover extra power of up to 500kJ per designated ‘hybrid recovery zone’ on the track, which is delivered on the exit of the corner.

To put this output into context, Toyota says 500kJ is enough energy to lift a 2.5-tonne minivan over 20 metres vertically.

Before the global financial crisis hit, Toyota presented a rear-wheel-drive hybrid sportscar concept at the 2007 Detroit motor show – the FT-HS – which combined a 3.5-litre V6 and an electric motor for a total system output of around 300kW.

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