Have We Already Seen Toyota's FT-Se Electric Sports Car?

After years of being accused of lagging on the battery-electric front, it seems like Toyota is finally playing catch-up. We’re set to know a lot more about what’s coming at next week’s Japan Mobility Show, an event due to bring us lots of concepts and news from Toyota and Lexus alike. One car I’m especially excited about is the FT-Se Concept, which from the teasers we’ve seen, looks almost like a modern, electric Toyota MR2. But we may have seen a lot of it already.

The teasers shown yesterday reveal parts of an athletic-looking concept Toyota says is “a high-performance sports BEV model proposed as one of the options for sports cars in the carbon-neutral era.” It’s wide, it’s low, it’s orange, the cockpit seems to be full of screens and it’s said to share components with the FT-3e crossover concept (which could end up being a bZ4x with far better execution.)  

But what I haven’t seen many outlets point out yet is that the FT-Se bears an extremely strong resemblance to one of the many EV concepts Toyota trotted out back in late 2021. Remember the Sports EV Concept? In case you forgot, here’s a reminder:

From what little we can see so far, the two concepts look remarkably similar – same color, low-slung shape, mid-engine architecture (or the appearance of one, since we’re talking EVs here), and aggressive vents in front of the rear wheels. Now, the rear decklid looks a little different, and it’s more than likely that Toyota has spent some time polishing this design over the past few years. But that concept from a few years ago could give us a strong idea of what to expect. 

Some context is helpful here. When Toyota unveiled that lineup in December 2021, it looked like it was hauling out a bunch of in-progress design studies that it said could preview a global lineup of 15 EVs ranging from commercial vans to pickup trucks and crossovers. At the time, Toyota was really starting to catch heat for its lack of fully electric vehicles in its lineup, and for its own alleged lobbying against EV adoption. At the time, it wasn’t clear that any of those cars would ever see production, though many of them looked extremely plausible. 

Fast forward a few years and Toyota still hasn’t really met the EV moment. The bZ4x has been met with mixed reviews, and even if Toyota’s hybrid lineup is impressive (and effective at reducing emissions) the automaker has still lost a ton of business this year just to Tesla.

Gallery: Toyota Sports EV

Things seem to be changing, however. Toyota lately has been stressing its revised plans for EVs, including new production techniques to match Tesla and what could be 600-mile solid-state batteries in a few years. Lexus also plans to go fully electric in North America by 2030 and completely electric globally by 2035, so maybe Toyota’s got some real juice for a change. 

At the same time, former president and current chairman Akio Toyoda has insisted that the company not lose the sporting edge his administration helped bring back to Toyota as the market transitions away from gasoline vehicles. He has said that the GR performance brand is working on an electric sports car with artificial engine sounds and a simulated manual gearbox – which, for all we know, could be the FT-Se here – and we know Lexus is also working on some kind of electric sports car or grand tourer. So if you care about fun, it seems like some good things may be headed our way as Toyota gets real about battery EVs. 

We’ll learn more next week about how much of that concept from 2021 made it to the FT-Se concept, and whether it’s destined for production or not. InsideEVs will be there at the show too, so let us know in the comments what you want to hear about from Toyota and Lexus.

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