Thursday, May 30, 2024

Toyota’s wild performance car future

While rival brands are investing in silent, battery-powered sports cars, this manufacturer is driving in a different direction.

Toyota Mirai, the first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle being sold to the public, offers a brisk and nimble ride, despite its considerable bulk. And instead of carbon dioxide, it emits water. Photo: Eric Pfanner/The Wall Street Journal

The Japanese giant unveiled the Toyota GR H2 Racing Concept at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the weekend. The sleek machine is powered by an internal combustion engine that burns hydrogen instead of petrol or diesel – something the brand has experimented with using a modified racing version of its Toyota GR Corolla hot hatch.

Toyota’s GR H2 Racing Concept looks set to go racing in the future.

Most hydrogen cars use fuel cells to create electrical energy that powers near-silent electric motors.

But Toyota chairman and renowned car enthusiast Akio Toyoda says the hydrogen burning technology will allow racing and performance cars to retain their visceral appeal.

Toyota believes race cars should be fast and loud.

“My goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in motorsports without sacrificing anything in terms of performance or excitement,” he said.

“We look forward to our new GR H2 race car in view of the new Le Mans H2 class in the future.
“The sound, the torque, the dynamics, it’s all there.

“Not only are we re-imagining the race car, we’re doing it with zero emissions. Here’s to the next 100 years of checkered flags!”

Toyota’s hybrid racer finished second at Le Mans in 2023. Photo: Fred TANNEAU/AFP

A statement released by Toyota said it “looks forward to taking on the challenge of a new generation of Le Mans 24 races”, and “intends to further advance such efforts for making ever-better motorsports-bred cars”.

The manufacturer has raced with hybrid technology at Le Mans and beyond since 2013.

Toyota finished second to Ferrari in the 24-hour endurance race on Sunday.

Ferrari’s James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi won Le Mans this year. Photo: Fred TANNEAU / AFP

The Italian brand returned to top-flight prototype racing after a 50-year absence.

Ferrari drivers Antonio Giovinazzi, James Calado, and Alessandro Pier Guidi took a hard-fought win at Le Mans, driving a hybrid-powered machine with a similar engine to the latest Ferrari 296 GTB supercar.

Rival efforts from Porsche, Cadillac, Peugeot and others fell short of the pace and reliability shown by Ferrari and Toyota.

Ferrari, Peugeot, Porsche and Toyota were front-runners in the endurance classic. Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

The 100th anniversary race at Le Mans pushed drivers and their cars to the limit.

Next year’s race promises to be even tougher to win, with BMW, Lamborghini and Alpine set to join the fray.


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