Development of a Toyota GT86 hybrid had been well under way, but the suits have decided there isn’t a market to justify production. Are they right that a hybrid sports car flounder in the market or did Toyota just make a big mistake?
It seems like a natural fit to me, especially given Toyota’s dominance of the hybrid market. If anybody could make a fun and affordable hybrid sports car, it should be Toyota, right? It isn’t like this was just an idea on paper either, as development on a GT86 hybrid was said to be “quite advanced” and engineers seemed excited about the prospect of a balanced, sporty and efficient coupe.
Unfortunately, AutoCar reports that executives don’t think the market and business case for such a car can be made, mostly due to cost. A hybrid drivetrain that delivers better performance than the 2.0 liter Boxer engine might just be too expensive compared to the simpler solution of swapping a turbocharged four-banger under the hood. Because the Toyota GT86 and its American cousin, the Scion FR-S, are niche products with low sales volume that is unlikely to repay development and production costs. Let’s not forget the Toyota FT-1 Concept either, which has been pegged as a hybrid Supra successor with a much higher price than the GT86.
It’s a damn shame Toyota backed away from this project, though I can’t say I blame them either. The market might not be ready for a hybrid sports car to compete with the likes of the Mazda Miata. Eventually though some automaker somewhere is going to push a hybrid sports car concept into production, and hopefully create a market that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
Oh wait, somebody already did, and it’s called the Volkswagen Golf GT-E.
So what do you think; is Toyota making a huge mistake here, or is the business case for a GT86 hybrid just not there?