Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled a prototype sports car Monday the company says previews design elements for future models.
The automaker displayed the FT-1, short for Future Toyota, at the North American International Auto Show. The concept car has samples of what “Toyota will imprint on future designs,” Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota’s Calty Design Research, said during a news conference. “This is the type of project we dream of working on.”
The FT-1, in development the past two years, is based on previous Toyota sports cars, including the GT 2000 and Supra. The prototype was made “to get reaction to see if there’s demand for it or not,” Mike Michels, a company spokesman, said after the news conference. He declined to say how long Toyota would take to evaluate whether to proceed with a new sports car based on the FT-1.
Bob Carter, a Toyota senior vice president in the U.S., said having such a car would provide an immediate lift for the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker.
“I’d love to have the car tomorrow,”Carter said. “It excites emotion for the brand.” Toyota’s total U.S. sales rose 7.4 percent in2013, slower than the industrywide gain of 7.6 percent. Toyota-brand deliveries increased 6.7 percent.
The FT-1 displayed at the auto show has a front engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. The prototype is part of a drive by Akio Toyoda, the automaker’s president, to move away from conservative vehicle designs.
The FT-1 is “a first look at a halo car that’s going to generate some pizazz for the brand,” said Joe Phillippi, president of AutoTrends Consulting in Andover, N.J. “I hope this becomes the Supra.”
Toyota ended U.S. sales of the Supra in 1998.