Toyota to Pioneer Hybrid Racing Technology?

Image source: Nordvik

[social_buttons] According to AutoBlogGreen there is currently a bit of buzz surrounding the possibility that Toyota will enter a hybrid into the 2009 LeMans race. They’ve already missed the deadline if they wanted to enter a hybrid in 2008, but since they’re in it to win it, it appears that they will wait until 2009 in order to enter a vehicle with every chance of winning.

Hybrid packages are usually packaged as environmentally friendly or with fuel efficiency improving features, but in many cases hybrid technology can be used for plain, old-fashioned power. With performance batteries (or capacitors in the case of the Toyota) and large electric motors, additional energy can be gained from regenerative braking that is later used to assist a gasoline engine when performance is needed most. It is in this way that many hybrids (like those made by luxury manufacturers or the former Accord Hybrid) both perform better and get better fuel economy.

This news follows on the coattails of stellar performance by the Toyota HV-R, which won the 24 hours of Tokachi race (very similar to the LeMans) in 2007. This same car, which is based on the Toyota Supra also won the “Race engine of the year 2007” award. If the car fielded by Toyota in the LeMans is anything like the HV-R, it will use three electric motors, one main, rear motor as well has two in-hub motors in the front wheels. This allows the car to capture and use maximum amounts of energy from regenerative braking.

I’m definitely excited to see if Toyota (or any other manufacturer) fields a hybrid powertrain in the LeMans, and if so how they fair. Do you think hybrids are poised to take a leading role in racing?

Here are the specs on the HV-R (thanks to ABG):

Specifications of Toyota Supra HV-R

Vehicle name Denso Toyota Supra HV-R
Entry Class GT/TP1
Engine Modified (Super GT version 3UZ-FE engine)
Engine displacement 4,480cc
Air restrictor 29.6mm i2
Maximum output 480ps min/6,800rpm
Maximum torque 510 Nm at 5,600rpm
Electric motor Front motor: 10kW i2 (in-wheel motor)

Rear motor: 150kW

Vehicle weight 1.080 kg
Team name TOYOTA Team SARD
Drivers Katsuyuki Hiranaka (Japan)

Andre Couto (Portugal)

Akira Lida (Japan)

Tatsuya Kataoka (Japan

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Benjamin Jones

Benjamin Jones is a student of Dartmouth College and co-founder of and writer at He is double majoring in Japanese and Linguistics, and is most interested in Sociolinguistics and Anthropology in Japan.