The FT-Se concept was unveiled at the Tokyo motor show
Company boss Koji Sato vowed the machine would be small, low, light and fun, adding that the production version of the high-performance EV will arrive with a driving feel unlike anything else on the road today, the brand claims.
The FT-Se – a development of the unnamed Toyota MR2-sized concept that was revealed in late 2021 – prioritises “handling stability and aerodynamic performance”.
A key facilitator of these objectives will be Toyota's new-era modular architecture and energy-dense battery technology. Shared with the FT-3e SUV concept and the Lexus LF-ZC and LF-ZL concepts that was also unveiled at the Tokyo show, the new technology will allow next-generation Toyota EVs to have a “low centre of gravity” without sacrificing range or performance.
“We are making battery EVs like only a true car maker can,” said Sato. “This means revisiting the fundamentals of car making and delivering based on performance, like driving range and as well as value that only BEVs can offer.
“One example is making cars with both a low centre of gravity and a spacious interior, which was not possible in the past. To do this we need to make the main components much smaller and lighter and deploy our strength as a car maker to put them together in the best package possible.
“Achieving this means that the design, the driving feel and everything else can be transformed.”
He added: "EVs are not only eco-friendly. They also offer their own flavour of driving fun and automotive [characteristics]. They can deliver diverse experience values."
A defining feature for the cars that sit on this modular electric architecture is the flexibility it offers in size, shape and powertrain layout. The vehicles are split into three parts (front, centre and rear) using a new gigacasting production process that greatly reduces the number of components, which increases strength, reduces cost and allows for more freedom of form.
The FT-Se is 4380mm long, 1895mm wide and 1220mm tall, with a 2650mm-long wheelbase – similar dimensions to the current Toyota GR Supra.
It is expected to draw power from Toyota's new Performance lithium ion battery pack – set to arrive in production cars in 2026 – which is claimed to increase range to around 497 miles and cut costs by up to 40%.
Toyota previously confirmed that this battery would enable the development of electric sports cars like the FT-Se, owing to a targeted pack height of 100mm. This is 50mm shorter than the battery in the existing bZ4X SUV, enabling a significantly lower seating position.
The new model is also set to introduce a new software platform called Arene OS that allows its dynamic character to evolve with software updates. Revealed at the Tokyo show, Arene “can stay up to date with the latest software and use vehicle data to speed up development,” according to Sato.
Inside, it is designed to be driver focused, with two smartphone-style display screens flanking a narrow yoke steering wheel.
The digital instrument display is set much further away from the driver than in existing sports cars, such as the GR Supra, and is reminiscent of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior design.
There are also newly designed knee pads, which are said to "protect the body from g-forces” during cornering.
It is possible that the FT-Se may also feature a manual gearbox. Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda confirmed to Autocar in June that the company was testing its first GR electric sports car, stating: “There is also a manual transmission and also a clutch. If you put someone in the car and asked them to drive it and guess the powertrain, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.”
The firm last year revealed early details of a manual transmission project for upmarket brand Lexus, in a bid to add extra engagement to its future EVs. This set-up does not connect directly to the motor, but instead simulates gearchanges by adjusting the torque settings of the electric motor.
Chief engineer Takashi Watanabe suggested that this system could also be programmed to allow the car to roll back on a hill, or emulate a stall, so that bad driving is punished.
Lexus previously confirmed that this system is earmarked for use in the all-electric LFA successor, whose design was previewed by the Electrified Sport Concept in 2022.
Additonal reporting by Charlie Martin