Toyota’s Ambitious Electric Sports Car: Blurring the Lines Between EV and Gasoline Performance

The electric vehicle (EV) industry has undoubtedly witnessed remarkable advancements in the past decade, offering a diverse array of models ranging from sedans and SUVs to supercars and pickup trucks. However, there remains an intriguing gap in the market for affordable EV sports cars. Excitingly, Toyota, renowned for its dedication to innovation and performance, appears poised to fill this void by working on an electric performance prototype worthy of the esteemed GR (Gazoo Racing) badge.

In a recent interview conducted at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, Akio Toyoda, the recently retired president of Toyota and the visionary grandson of the company’s founder, disclosed his active involvement in the development of the highly anticipated EV sports car. As a passionate auto enthusiast who has personally experienced the thrill of driving Toyota’s race cars in various endurance and rally competitions across the globe, Toyoda expressed his ardent desire to create an electrifying driving experience that rivals that of traditional gasoline-powered sports cars.

In essence, Toyoda emphasized that the true essence of an exhilarating driving experience transcends the type of powertrain used. Irrespective of whether it runs on gasoline or electricity, Toyoda is committed to ensuring that the upcoming performance EV, part of the GR line, will deliver sheer driving joy, captivating enthusiasts and novices alike.

Notably, Toyoda had the unique opportunity to test drive a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) prototype under the GR banner. While official confirmation of its market release remains pending, Toyoda enthusiastically conveyed that the paramount focus of this project is to craft a performance-oriented EV that exudes sheer enjoyment on the road, irrespective of its electric powertrain.

To further augment the driving excitement and authenticity of the experience, Toyota has undertaken ingenious endeavors. The brand plans to ingeniously simulate the visceral engine sounds and sensations typically associated with gasoline-powered sports cars. Through artful audio engineering, the engine sounds will be channeled into the cabin, accompanied by an EV manual transmission and a three-pedal setup currently under meticulous development. Toyota’s dedication to crafting an authentic manual transmission has resulted in a simulation so realistic that it can even replicate the sensations of rolling backward or stalling, effectively blurring the lines between traditional sports cars and their electric counterparts.

Impressively, Toyoda shared a compelling insight into the prototype’s development: if an unsuspecting driver were placed behind the wheel without prior knowledge of its powertrain, discerning that it’s an electric vehicle would prove challenging—a testament to Toyota’s commitment to delivering an indistinguishable driving experience irrespective of propulsion technology.

While preserving the captivating performance characteristics of traditional sports cars, the EV will embrace a modern and environmentally conscious design, which may include distinctive cues such as an absence of the traditional grille.

Toyoda’s unwavering dedication to preserving the “fun to drive” ethos amid the automotive industry’s green energy transition is evident. Toyota has been diligently exploring various sustainable alternatives, such as hydrogen-combustion race cars, with the goal of ensuring future vehicles continue to deliver thrilling and engaging driving experiences. Toyoda’s steadfast commitment to driving enjoyment has earned him both praise and challenges within the company, underscoring his unwavering resolve to redefine the future of performance driving.

As a noteworthy detail, Toyoda founded Gazoo Racing (GR) during his tenure as a junior executive at Toyota. Since its inception, GR has evolved into a dedicated performance sub-brand and a prominent motorsports program, reflecting Toyoda’s enduring passion for driving excellence. While speculation abounds regarding a potential mid-engined EV co-development with Toyota’s esteemed partners Daihatsu and Suzuki, Toyoda opted not to divulge specific details, expressing optimism about exploring new frontiers in EV performance.

Ultimately, Toyoda’s underlying objective is to investigate the essential elements that should remain constant in cars, even in the rapidly evolving realm of battery-electric vehicles. Irrespective of whether the specific GR EV prototype ultimately reaches the market, Toyota’s unwavering commitment to delivering electrifying driving experiences stands as a guiding principle as the automotive industry embraces the shift toward sustainable mobility solutions. The future holds exciting potential at the intersection of electric propulsion and thrilling performance, with Toyota poised to spearhead the charge in redefining the EV sports car segment and captivating drivers worldwide.