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Wed, Oct 07, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Toyota to show green sports car with Subaru engine

AP , TOKYO

Besides showing off its well-known hybrids, Toyota will take a slightly different tack at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show to display a green sports car with a special kind of gasoline engine.

The FT-86, inspired by a sporty Corolla model from the 1980s called AE86, has a Subaru engine from Toyota partner Fuji Heavy Industries, whose pistons are positioned horizontally, instead of vertically as in standard engines.

Subaru and Porsche SE are among the few automakers in the world making that type of engine, which allows for a quiet drive and a low-sitting mean look that’s a trademark for sports cars.

Toyota chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said the ruby-red sports car, debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, will appeal to car enthusiasts who remember the fun-to-drive “spirit of the 86.”

It will be relatively affordable at about ¥3 million (US$33,700), and it won’t be a gas-guzzler, delivering the mileage of an equivalent standard car, he said.

“Technology has developed in sports cars so much they can be green,” Tada said.

The Tokyo Motor Show opens for the media on Oct. 21, ahead of its formal opening on Oct. 23. Reporters got a preview of Toyota offerings, which also included a futuristic-looking electric car.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, is promising an electric vehicle by 2012.

It trails some other automakers, including Nissan Motor Co, which plans to start selling an electric car called Leaf next year.

Yasuo Kajino, a Toyota manager, said the FT-EV II electric vehicle, a concept model to be unveiled at the Tokyo show, isn’t the 2012 model and won’t be available for consumers for some years after that.

Toyota has led the world in hybrids with the Prius, now in its third-generation since its 1997 debut. The Prius is the top-selling gas-electric hybrid, racking up more than 1.4 million vehicles in global sales so far.

The Prius hybrid was also the top-selling car in Japan last month for the fifth straight month, helped by tax breaks and government incentives for “green” vehicles — which end next March — an industry group said yesterday.

Toyota sold 31,758 Prius cars last month, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

Toyota said this week there was a backlog of Prius orders, numbering several thousand.

Customers ordering the cars now won’t get them delivered until after next May.

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