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Toyota launches sports car hybrid

Toyota is pushing its hybrid car technology to new frontiers with the launch of the Toyota FT-HS hybrid sports concept in the US at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

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Toyota has entered its hybrid engine series into the sports car market with the launch of the new FT-Hs sports concept car in the US.

Toyota claims that the FT-HS incorporates hybrid capability while maintaining sports car essentials, such as a sleek profile, lightweight aero-dynamic materials, and advanced high-output engines for revolutionary acceleration and optimal performance. Toyota's claim is that this 21st century sports car is fun to drive with eco-friendly benefits such as ultra-low emissions and fuel efficiency. Toyota believes that the FT-HS will appeal 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-100km/hr 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.

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. The design aims to 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 fibre 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 fibre lower diffuser with integrated wide exhaust and carbon fibre wheels.

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. Toyota believes that this feature ultimately enhances driver focus.

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