Concept cars showcase Toyota’s green drive


Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled two new concept models Tuesday that it hopes will highlight its “green” technology.

The cars will make their public debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, which opens Oct. 24.

One model is a tiny four-seat electric vehicle, the FT-EV II. The 2.73-meter-long car is 25 cm shorter than Toyota’s already diminutive iQ, which was launched last October as an “ultracompact” four-seat gasoline-powered car.

Toyota has said it will start selling electric vehicles in the United States by 2012 but that it hasn’t decided whether they will be based on the concept car.

“This model will be for city commuters” when electric vehicles become common in several years, Yasuo Kajino, a group manager at the Toyota design center, said at a media preview.

The FT-EV II can run 90 km on a single charge, Kajino said.

Toyota also showed off a reduced-emissions sports car, the FT-86.

“We’re aiming at a sports car that is also friendly to the environment,” said Tetsuya Tada, the concept car’s chief engineer.

The FT-86 draws its inspiration from the AE86, a sporty version of the 1980s-era Corolla.

The car’s engine block is flat and the pistons are positioned horizontally, instead of vertically as in standard engines. This gives it a lower center of gravity and greater stability at high speeds, Toyota said.

The car’s reduced weight and high-efficiency engine offer lower emissions than ordinary sports cars, Tada said.

The FT-86 will go on sale in Japan and the U.S. at the end of 2011 and is likely to be priced at less than ¥3 million, he said.