Let’s face it: no kid hangs a poster of an electric crossover up on their bedroom wall. But they might just do that for a hot-looking electric sports car, like the Toyota FT-Se Concept that debuted at the Japan Mobility Show this week. But the car’s own designer admitted to InsideEVs that the FT-Se may be more than just a dream, and it might even be coming sooner than we think.
Hideaki Iida, the project manager for the GR (Gazoo Racing) Design Group and designer of the FT-Se Concept, told me in an interview on the show stand that the car does in fact share the same battery pack as the Lexus LF-ZC that is officially confirmed for production. And while Toyota hasn’t said whether the FT-Se will become a real car or not, Iida was adamant that it would be after that Lexus makes its debut.
“We’re going to release the Lexus model in 2026 and this one afterward,” Iida said. “We can’t guarantee the year itself, but as soon as possible. After 2026 is what I can tell you.”
Gallery: Toyota FT-Se concept
That’s the strongest confirmation we’ve gotten from anyone at Toyota yet that this sporting EV could become a reality. But when you follow the evidence here – and I’ve spent several days doing this myself – it all adds up. First, let’s start with the fact that from nose to tail, including the interior, the FT-Se looks a little more “finished” than many of the other concepts Toyota put onstage at the auto show. The Land Cruiser Se, for example, had covered windows and no interior at all. (Similarly, the Toyota EPU truck concept looked awfully close to real too.)
Next, consider what Iida said next: “This is a brand-new design language to show this is a new brand… not traditional.” He demurred at the idea that the FT-Se had anything to do with the MR2, or even the Supra, though they both share a Gurney-style bubble roof; this one seems meant to stand on its own. Except that when I sat on a roundtable interview with Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda for Road & Track this summer, he confirmed Toyota’s GR performance division was getting its own standalone EV. Considering this designer works with GR, it could very well be this car.
Finally, other Toyota folks I spoke to at the show alluded to the FT-Se eventually doing something with the company’s planned simulated “manual” gearbox for EVs – something also due out around 2026. That’s what Toyoda alluded to at the time: “It has a manual transmission. There’s also clutches too,” he said. Now, the FT-Se interior didn’t have anything like that, but a production car could. Though that idea may seem silly for an EV, Toyota seems to want to preserve the tactile feel and control that manual gearboxes offer, just in a zero-emission package.
Iida didn’t want to comment when I asked him about the production car’s power rating, target weight, or price, but he did say it’s envisioned to compete with the Porsche Boxster and Cayman – two cars also expected to go all-electric in the coming years.
So besides its designer coming out and saying it will happen after the production LF-ZC’s debut, many signs point to the FT-Se becoming a reality someday. I think it’s best to wait until we get the official word – after all, plenty of new EVs have seen significant delays lately – but most signs point to Toyota actually wanting to make this thing. I say bring it on; EVs have yet to make real inroads into the pure sports car segment, but that’s bound to change someday. It may as well start with this one.
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