Monday, March 30, 2009

New Hybrid Sportscar from Toyota

Another exciting development in eco-friendly transportation may be on the horizon in the form of a sporty car based on tried and true hybrid technology from Toyota. As a long-time loyal Toyota owner who likes a sporty car that can deliver performance and economy, I am thrilled to see this breaking news.

Toyota executive vice president Masatami Takimoto has reportedly confirmed the MR2 sportscar will soon be hitting the road, remade from its older version into a Prius-inspired hybrid vehicle. The new MR2 will draw inspiration (and technology) from the iconic Toyota Prius, with the goal of creating a mass market hybrid sportscar that is as fun to drive as it is green. No actual renderings of the car have been released, but based on rumors and existing concepts for the ft-HS concept car, it is expected to be a sporty, low-slung coupe cross between the old MR2 and the Prius.

Toyota’s development of the MR2 will not compete directly with the Tesla Roadster, but rather creates a car that can do a reasonable 0-60mph in seven seconds and get an incredible 60mpg, presumably at a much more achievable price point. We are all familiar with Toyota’s efforts to create a mass market electric vehicle. The Prius, after all, is the best known green car on the market. So looking to capitalize on such technology while creating a sportier, much more dynamic looking vehicle has great implications for both a consumer market and the corporation’s innovation.

Based on the automaker's current line of eminently reliable, practical and fuel efficient machinery, it's easy to forget that Toyota has a past full of exciting sports cars. A couple of years back, Toyota decided to highlight the fact that it knows how to built a sporty-looking vehicle with the FT-HS concept, which mated a performance-minded hybrid powertrain with edgy, low-slung bodywork.

If indeed true, this new sporty hybrid would go up against Honda's expected CR-Z hybrid hatchback. Unlike its rival from Honda, though, the MR2 would feature rear-wheel drive, and that's something to get excited about.

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