Plus Hydrogen & EV AE 86 Sports Cars
Toyota Showcases Retrofit Upgrades To Classic Models such as AE 86 Trueno and Levin, showcasing hydrogen power and EV conversions. Toyota President, Akio Toyoda, has promised to ‘Leave no Car Lovers Behind’.
Under the theme of ‘Leaving No Car Lovers Behind,’ Toyota has showcased alternative-fuel and zero-emission versions of some of its 1980s sports models, making an important point about making existing cars carbon-neutral rather than rushing to replace them all.
The AE86 generation of rear-wheel drive hatchbacks and coupes from Toyota, still commands an adoring cult following around the world, and Toyota exhibited two examples at the Tokyo Auto Salon, one converted to an EV, and another as a hydrogen-powered model.
Bucking the trend of the industry at large, which is following legislation to transition the world’s drivers over to brand new electric cars as soon as possible, Toyota President Akio Toyoda, made an extremely pertinent point about remodelling existing cars to help achieve the world target of zero-emissions by 2050. Especially important, as in Japan only 5% of cars are new.
“It’s important to leave a choice for cars that are already loved or owned by someone,” Toyoda, a self-confessed motoring enthusiast and race-car driver, explained.
With the proposal that promoting the carbon neutralisation of vehicles currently in customer use is essential, Toyota Gazoo Racing created a hydrogen engine AE86 H2 Concept which was displayed alongside a battery electric AE86 conversion, the AE86 BEV Concept.
Gazoo Racing used knowledge gained through its running of a hydrogen-powered race car in Japan’s Super Taikyu series to create the AE86 H2 Concept, a vehicle that provides the noise and sensations of an internal combustion engine but runs on hydrogen thanks to high-pressure hydrogen fuel tanks. Other modifications, including fuel injectors, fuel pipes, and spark plugs, have been kept to the minimum.
The AE86 BEV Concept maintains as far as possible the AE86’s light weight and front-rear weight balance, together with a manual transmission in a vehicle that has the potential to deliver even greater driving performance than the original. Elements have been used from a wide range of Toyota electrified sources, including a motor from the hybrid electric Tundra pick-up and a battery unit that’s also used in the Prius Plug-in.
Both concepts also look to carbon neutrality by re-using seats and seatbelts and seatbelt pads made from recycled materials.
Additionally, Toyota announced the Gazoo Racing Heritage Parts Project, an initiative to re-issue discontinued service parts and sell them as new, genuine parts to help customers keep their classic Toyota models on the road. In 2023 Toyota Gazoo Racing plans to extend the programme, launching 32 items for eight classic vehicles, including the Land Cruiser 60, 70 and 80 models.
Nonetheless the manufacturer has a firm eye on the future. While Toyota has focused more on hybrids, having been at the forefront of the petrol-electric drivetrain technology with Prius, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars, in the past, the Japanese giant has confirmed plans to invest $70 billion to electrify its vehicles and produce more batteries with the aim of selling at least 3.5 million EVs in 2030.