Detroit Auto Show: A Suitable Sports Car? Toyota FT-HS Concept

Somehow, we're finding it really hard to get excited about the Toyota FT-HS hybrid concept, and the press release after the jump isn't helping any. However, if the terms "J-Factor" and "Vibrant Clarity" bust your crank and leave skidmarks on your soul, you can always click through for a mind-numbing discussion of perfect imbalance and freeform geometrics. Or you can just look at the pictures.

Detroit Auto Show: A Suitable Sports Car? Toyota FT-HS Concept

January 3, 2007 - Torrance, CA - The Toyota FT-HS hybrid sports concept will
make its debut at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

Pairing a potent hybrid powertrain with essential sports car fundamentals,
the FT-HS concept was a joint undertaking of Calty, Toyota's North
American-based, research and design center located in Newport Beach, Calif.,
and Toyota's California-based Advanced Product Strategy Group. The design
team was assigned the task of creating a mid-priced sports car that
integrates ecology and emotion in a concept that addresses the question
"What is a suitable sports car for the 21st Century?"

"Drivers today are not satisfied with cars that are simply fast," said Kevin
Hunter, vice president, Calty Design Research. "In addition to driving
enjoyment, today's drivers are concerned about safety, ecology and social
responsibility."

The FT-HS incorporates hybrid capability while maintaining sports car
essentials, such as a sleek profile, lightweight aero-dynamic materials, and
an advanced high-output powertrain for revolutionary acceleration and
optimal performance. This 21st century sports car is fun-to-drive with
eco-friendly benefits such as ultra-low emissions and fuel efficiency. The
FT-HS appeals to an emerging buyer who grew up eco-conscious and perceives
technology as a necessity, not a luxury.

This two-plus-two concept is a front-engine, rear-drive sports car with a
projected zero-to-60 acceleration in the four-second range. A powerful V6,
3.5L-engine is coupled with a 21st century sports hybrid system with a
target power output of approximately 400-horsepower. At a mid-priced market
position, FT-HS would be a true "attainable exotic" with 21st Century
performance.

FT-HS expresses the core values of a Toyota Brand design strategy that
combines two key elements: J-Factor and Vibrant Clarity. J-Factor refers to
the local and global acceptance of Japanese-inspired design and cultural
sensibilities. Vibrant Clarity is the design language used to express the
J-factor much in the same way that L-Finesse is the language of the Lexus
Division. It is the combination of perfect imbalance, freeform geometrics
and integrated component architecture. The result of these three elements is
subtractive mass, a minimalist style that is not only lightweight, but also
looks lightweight.

The exterior design was led by Calty designer, Alex Shen. From a design
perspective, the theme of the FT-HS achieves sleek, taut surfaces in its
exterior features - especially in the doors and body style. The front and
rear have been sculpted to remove mass around key functional components.
Freeform geometrics define the integration of fluid surfaces contrasting
hard-edge "Aero-Corners" which promote smooth airflow and reduce turbulence.

The roof has a distinctive scooped-out section designed to reduce
aerodynamic drag and provide head room at the key areas. Made from carbon
fiber Kevlar, the roof retracts so that the roof panel and back window pivot
fluidly in a downward motion to stow in the rear seat space.

The vehicle's triangular profile has a floating "C" pillar, aero corners, a
full upper-body pan, and innovative open top. A hood features a scalloped
channel, exposing the hybrid engine. Integrated component architecture can
be seen in the aerospace-inspired lighting. The tail lamp unit spans the
entire rear, and has an integrated retractable spoiler. Light-emitting diode
(LED) clusters are located in the headlamps and the wing for
energy-efficiency and decreased heat loss. Other exterior features include a
speed-activated wing that elevates at high speed for additional stability
and traction. The rear showcases a carbon fiber lower diffuser with
integrated wide exhaust and carbon fiber wheels.

The driver-oriented interior was created by Calty designer, William
Chergosky and exudes sleekness, technology, and performance. The lean
skeletal look is achieved with exposed cross-car architecture and high-tech
materials such as carbon fiber, and titanium. FT-HS' interior features
create a dedicated driver's cockpit which include subtractive mass
expressions such as cross-car instrument panel structure and delta wing
driver pod. The delta-wing driver's pod integrates many useful functions
into a lightweight structural unit. All of the important functions and
details are presented almost exclusively to the driver. For example,
touch-trace sensors which surround the driver and act as tactile guides for
finger controls when traveling at high speeds.

By eliminating the "B" pillar and creating a suspended "C" pillar, the
minimalist style works in conjunction with subtractive mass. An integrated
instrument panel surrounds the driver, creating an enclosed pod effect.
Armrests flow seamlessly into the door and surrounding interior.

Seating is optimized for a lightweight appearance and function: the seating
accommodates four and then coverts to a two-seater when the roof retracts.
The passenger-seat area is open with a simple exposed airbag on the
cross-car beam.

A telescoping hub-less steering wheel incorporates semi-automatic paddle
shifters and allows the meter to be shifted forward in order to shorten the
driver's focus-time between the road and meter, and ultimately enhance
driver focus.

"FT-HS redefines the sports car experience not only with styling but also in
function and performance," said Hunter. "The FT-HS is Toyota's answer to the
question 'What is a suitable sports car for the 21st Century?'"


TOYOTA FT-HS CONCEPT VEHICLE PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVETRAIN
3.5 Liter V6 hybrid electric

DIMENSIONS (inches)
Overall Length: 170.27

Overall Width: 73.23

Overall Height: 50.79

Wheelbase: 104.33

Wheels: Carbon Fiber

Tire Sizes: Front 245/35R21 Rear 285/30R21

Related:
2007 Detroit Auto Show: Toyota Unwraps the FT-HS Hybrid Sports Car Concept for Christmas [Internal]