Back to the future: Toyota sets sights on old-car upgrades in zero-emissions drive

Toyota showcased zero-emission versions of its 1980s sports range

Toyota Motor showcased zero-emission versions of its 1980s sports range on Friday. The eye-catching bid showcasing old-school petrolheads showed that the company still boasts a strong global fan base. These were showcased at an industry event for customized cars in Chiba, east of Tokyo. The Japanese automaker revealed two cars of the AE86 generation.

Back to the future: Toyota sets sights on old-car upgrades in zero-emissions drive
Image credits- Yahoo Finance

The vehicles include one modified as a battery-electric vehicle and the other as a hydrogen-engine model. Toyota President Akio Toyoda said remodeling existing cars needed to be explored as an option to achieve a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050. In Japan, only one in about 20 vehicles on the road is new, and older ones are mainly powered at least partly by gasoline. “It’s important to leave a choice for cars that are already loved or owned by someone,” Toyoda, a self-confessed car-lover and race-car driver, said at the event.

A relative newcomer to the mass EV market, Toyota has plans to invest $70 billion to electrify its vehicles and produce more batteries and aims to sell at least 3.5 million battery electric models (BEVs) in 2030.

Toyota resto moded another AE86 to make its original engine run on hydrogen, so you can get the “appeal points of sound and vibration” that you’d get from a gas engine, but without the carbon emissions, according to Toyota. No point for guessing that some of the parts came from a Mirai, Toyota’s experiment with hydrogen that hasn’t gotten much interest or investment in America. As Ars Technica points out, though, this car likely won’t be as efficient as a Mirai, or as fast as an unmodded AE86; there’s a reason most hydrogen vehicles use it in fuel cell form, rather than burning it in an engine.

EV production

 Automakers have forecast plans to build 54 million battery electric vehicles in 2030, representing more than 50% of total vehicle production, according to the analysis.  According to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and the manufacturers, to support that unprecedented level of EVs, carmakers and their battery partners are planning to install 5.8 terawatt-hours of battery production capacity by 2030.

While Toyota hinted during its press conference that it’s at least thinking about trying to make things easier for people trying to convert their own beloved cars away from gasoline, it’s not like like there are a ton of AE86s just lying around to be restored and modded. The company stopped making them in 1987. At Toyota’s Gazoo Racing booth, the maker of the Lexus luxury models and Camry sedan showed a video of its triumph at world rallies, as well as the battery-electric and hydrogen-powered versions.