Toyota dropped out of Formula One in 2009, and said it won’t come back, claiming that the sports is “too elistist” and out of touch with Toyota’s customers. Now, the company is dropping hints that the door is not closed forever. Asked by The Nikkei [sub] whether Toyota might come back to the sport, Toyota Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise was much less dismissive than in the past:
“ First, we’ll need to raise the profile of our hybrid vehicles through the WEC races and accumulate more technological expertise. Next year, we want to win the WEC’s Le Mans 24-hour race in France. We’re preparing for that now.”
Toyota won three out of eight races at this year’s World Endurance Championship. Its hybrid-race car uses a capacitor that can quickly charge and discharge electricity, which is created when the driver hits the brakes. The stored power helps accelerate the car when the driver turns around corners.
This sounds like the perfect system for 2014, when Formula One increases the capacity for Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) from 60kw to 120kw, while fuel consumption is restricted. That “greener” Formula One appears to be made to measure for hybrid-heavy Toyota. Said Ise::
“We withdrew from Formula 1 races in 2009 and needed to clearly define ourselves when it came to motor sports again. And we have zeroed in on hybrid vehicles.”
So does Formula One.
In addition to its WEC engagement, Toyota plans races with its hachi-roku, and possibly “a similar event for our luxury Lexus line.,” Ise said.