The Truth About Cars » toyota 86 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » toyota 86 Toyobaru Might Only Last For One Generation As Partnership Under Evaluation Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:07:52 +0000 FT86-Tada

The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ may only exist for one generation, as comments by the car’s chief engineer suggest a dissolution of the partnership between Toyota and Subaru.

Speaking to an Australian outlet, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada was cryptic about whether a next-generation sports car would have Subaru’s involvement. Tada left open the possibility that the future alliance with BMW could yield an entirely new product, one that abandons the boxer layout for an inline engine or alternative powertrains.

Tada suggested that supercapacitors, like those used in Toyota’s LeMans effort, would provide a new solution for adding hybrid technology to a next-generation sports car. But Tada was adamant that turbocharging is not an avenue he wanted to pursue, stating

The trend of powertrains is of course downsizing and turbo charging, but my opinion is to retain natural aspiration in the future.”

Adding hybrid technology would allow the future sports car to keep its N/A engine while adding power and reducing its emissions and fuel consumption. But in the near-term, Tada’s team is exploring ways to improve performance of the current car, including more displacement, better intake and exhausts and even a revised final drive ratio.

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Slow Sales Of Scion FR-S Disappoint Toyota, Jeopardize Engine Upgrades Wed, 19 Feb 2014 22:40:23 +0000 2013_Scion_FR-S_--_2012_NYIAS

The Scion FR-S – lightweight, affordable sports car that the world was supposedly waiting for – is reportedly lagging behing its sales targets across the globe, making it difficult for Toyota to justify upgrading the engine or bringing a convertible to market.

Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota Europe R&D head Gerald Killman said

“A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people’s wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales.”

Killman also reportedly expressed befuddlement over the car’s cool reception in the market, depsite enthusiastic reviews, not realizing that this is exactly the problem. Enthusiasts, like automotive journalists, don’t buy new cars. Even though they clamored for a new rear-drive sports car that was relatively affordable, gearheads still found fault with all sorts of things, from the lack of power to the less than impressive numbers it put up and even the sub-$25k pricetag (according to some, it should have been around $20k). If this car suffers an unnaturally short lifespin, there will be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the same people who criticized it and never bought it in the first place.

This is also a particularly tough time for a youth-oriented sports car to exist in the marketplace. Car ownership for the FR-S’ target market has become a faraway dream in Europe, a relic of an idea in Japan and a luxury in North America. Personally, I think the car was a victim of too much hype. The Toyobaru could never measure up to the effusive praise heaped on it by the media, though I have grown to like the car more and more as time goes on.






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Tada’s GT-86 Dreams Decoded Thu, 14 Mar 2013 17:33:03 +0000

Ahh, the benefits of free PR. Mere minutes after Toyota UK’s official blog posted their “interview” with GT 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, the outlets of the autoblogosphere were alight with Tada’s comments praising shooting brakes.

See, dropping a choice quote about Tada’s desire for a GT86 shooting brake isn’t just a coldly calculated way to ensure that this interview is re-posted ad infintium  on every content aggregator and “enthusiast blog” (read: free PR machine for the OEMs) in the world. It also provides a bit of insight into the economics of vehicle development, sales and manufacturing today – not to mention the PR and marketing side.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how it all works. Toyota’s in-house communication channel gets an “exclusive” interview with Tada-san, which is even more tightly controlled than it would be with a third party blog. Everything here is being tailored to get the exact message out that Toyota wants.

But it can’t be too dry and fawning, or else the rest of the blogosphere wouldn’t seize on the original work, alter it slightly and then publish it under their own name. So a few nuggets must be dropped in to appeal to the auto blogger army, who tend to be automotive uber-nerds of the highest order. So we get the following quote

“Mass producing a sports car for a company like Toyota carries a big business risk and we’ve tried to mitigate that risk with our collaboration with Subaru. We say, ‘mitigate’ in one [easy] word, but we had to make some really tough decisions for us to realise this. Also, along the way, we investigated the possibility of a sedan [saloon] and a shooting brake.”

At this point, a million articles entitled “SCION FR-S SEDAN AND SHOOTING BRAKE HINTED AT BY TOYOTA”, and that’s that. The real juice is of course, further down the article, but over the heads of anyone without real understanding of the auto industry.

“It’s just my personal dream that the GT86 could become a family like what BMW has done with the Mini family. I hope that happens.”

Whereas the car nerds see a savior-like product that can redeem the homogeneous  soulless and terminally boring auto industry, Toyota sees a costly niche vehicle with little opportunity to take advantage of scale. Car development is a multi-billion dollar exercise. If a giant like Toyota needed to partner with Subaru to mitigate some of the financial risk, you can imagine what an undertaking the 86 program must have been.

Luckily, there’s a way around this problem, as BMW has demonstrated with Mini; make a million variants of the base car, with each one carrying a slight differentiation and a substantial price premium to allow for greater margin. While most Mini variants look like a cynical exercise in foisting high margin crap on self-concious yuppies, a range of FT-86 derived products would be pretty cool. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want a lineup of affordable, rear-drive vehicles that met their practical as well as emotional needs? The complexities of vehicle design also dictate that variants like a convertible had to be thought of in advance during the 86′s engineering.

There’s a good chance that these future variants, like a shooting brake and a sedan, were also envisioned, and likely not forgotten. Auto makers do not just turn on a dime and decide to produce a full lineup just because one niche sports car has done well – the timeline of vehicle development is simply too long  and too planned in advance for these things to happen. Everything in this business comes down to money. If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. Never forget that. In fact, it’s quite liberating. And sometimes, it even leads to desirable outcomes like this.


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Hachi Roku Drops The Top Fri, 01 Mar 2013 16:54:04 +0000

Ever try and play a round of golf as a Miata driver? From first hand experience, I can tell you it doesn’t work well. If you are lucky at manipulating large objects and have nothing else in the trunk, your golf bag might fit. God help you if you are giving a friend a lift to the course. One golf bag will go in the passenger footwell, the other will likely have to sit on the folded soft top, with the passenger’s arm holding the golf bag. Ask me how I know.

The long-rumored Toyota FT-86 convertible, seen here in concept form solves that problem. The hachi roku’s back seats aren’t really suitable for a full-size adult, let alone two of them, but like the Porsche 911, they can store golf clubs (or a helmet bag if you’re so inclined) with easy. Mechanically, the drop top Toyobaru is the same I think it looks fantastic, and I’d really like the iPhone holder shaped like two pistons. I’m allowed to have that in my Miata, right?

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Scion FR-S Convertible Coming To Geneva In March Fri, 01 Feb 2013 16:06:34 +0000

Anyone attending the Geneva Auto Show will get to see a concept version of the Toyota 86 convertible, pictured above in a sketch. Enjoy it as you sip your 7 Franc lattes. We’ll have live shots for you starting March 5th, once the show is on. Maybe it will be warm enough to put the top down on the MX-5 by then…

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Toyota Engineer Reveals Plans For More Sports Cars Tue, 09 Oct 2012 16:08:37 +0000

No, this isn’t another lame rumor-mongering post based on idle speculation; Toyota’s own Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the 86, confirmed to Top Gear that two more sports cars are in the pipeline.

According to Tada, the two new products will book-end the 86 at both the lower and higher priced segments.

“The first is more mass-market and cheaper than the 86,” Tada revealed. “And the third is more upmarket than the 86.”

Tada says that he is still “conceptualizing” the cars, which is considered the start of a five year process. The only detail that can be confirmed is that the larger car apparently won’t be a hybrid.

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You Heard It Here Second: No Turbo, Convertible Scion FR-S For America Mon, 30 Jul 2012 14:26:58 +0000

One of the most popular “Out of Thin Air” stories over the last 24 months has concerned the existence of a factory turbocharged Scion FR-S. In second place, the existence of a convertible Scion FR-S. At long last, a reliable source of information has confirmed their existence – but we won’t be getting them.

Automotive News’ future product plans for the Japanese OEMs contained this nugget of information from reporter Mark Rechtin

Because pricing of the base FR-S starts above $25,000, the idea of a turbocharged performance version has been shelved because it would be too expensive. Drivers who want more power will get aftermarket kits from Toyota Racing Development, or other kit suppliers, but there will be no retail version.

The convertible also is a no-go for the United States because of the price issue. It will sell in overseas markets with the Toyota “86″ badge

Hopefully that puts to rest the endless rumors surrounding these variants. The constant hand-wringing will only grow stronger following their release in “world markets”, no doubt.


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Toyota 86 To Get Exclusive Dealer Space In Japan Thu, 15 Mar 2012 17:07:43 +0000

With the Toyota 86 set to go on sale in a couple of weeks (the first production models are set to leave the line on Friday), Toyota’s Japanese sales outlets will have separate spaces to sell the new sports car - and in some cases, stand alone sales facilities, similar to the Chrysler/Fiat arrangement in America.

The new sales areas will be called “Area 86″, and be staffed by knowledgeable employees who can answer questions about the vehicle, as well as aftermarket products and test drives. Most of the “Area 86″ outlets will be situated within larger dealerships, but one in Toyota City will operate a larger, stand-alone space measuring 1722 square feet, that is intended to be a place for car enthusiasts to congregate. Toyota has received 7,000 pre-orders for the 86 so far.

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Scion FR-S Won’t Get Stripped Down “Tuner Special” Mon, 13 Feb 2012 23:01:37 +0000

North America won’t get a “tuner special” Scion FR-S like the Japanese Toyota 86 will. Such a policy apparently contradicts Scion’s policy of offering one trim level, and the American FR-S will apparently come pretty well equipped. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see it later.

Tetsuya Tada, the car’s chief engineer, told Automotive News that such a vehicle could arrive at a later date. That version, known as the “RC”, gets unpainted black bumpers front and read, 16″ steel wheels, no air conditioning and no stereo system. The RC sells for about $26,000 in Japan, while an equivalent to our FR-S would run $36,000. Car prices being what they are in Japan, we can expect an FR-S to retail closer to the RC’s price point.

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Toyota 86 Priced At $25,848 In Japan Thu, 26 Jan 2012 15:49:00 +0000

As if the Ford Escape pricing details weren’t exciting enough, Toyota has priced their new 86 sports car in Japan, with a base price of $25,848. But to get anything approaching normal equipment levels, you’ll pay $31,000

Four trim levels – Customize Grade, G, GT and GT Limited – will be offered. The Customize Grade has unpainted bumpers and seems to be targeted at those who want to customize their 86. The G Grade will cost $31,000, a GT will cost $36,239 and a GT Limited will set you back $38,578.

Options include a limited-slip differential, projector headlights, aluminum pedals and an automatic transmission. A strong yen is going to make pricing the Scion FR-S difficult for Toyota USA. Scion previously claimed it would start below $30,000, but that’s hardly encouraging in the context of “affordable sports car”.

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