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Toyota will use racing tech to build a road-going hypercar

The automaker known for the Prius and the Camry is building a hypercar. Fresh off its victory at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota said it would adapt technology from its winning race cars for a road-going “super sports car.”

The car will be based on the GR Super Sport concept that debuted earlier this year, and features many components taken from the TS050 Hybrid race car that just won Le Mans. Like the TS050, the GR Super Sport concept featured a 2.4-liter V6 engine with electric assist. Toyota said the concept was good for 986 horsepower.

If it sticks close to the template laid out by the GR Super Sport, Toyota’s production hypercar will essentially do for endurance-racing technology what the Mercedes-AMG Project One is doing for Formula One tech: put it in the hands of people who don’t wear helmets and fire suits to work. Like the Mercedes, the Toyota will likely be very expensive and have a limited production run. But Toyota is keeping details under wraps for now.

Toyota has been trying for years to shake a reputation for building boring cars, and a racing-inspired hybrid hypercar would seem to put the matter to rest. Just as Mercedes is building the Project One in part to capitalize on its Formula One success, a hypercar will help memorialize Toyota’s Le Mans win. Toyota is only the second Japanese automaker to win the legendary French race (after Mazda in 1991), and its 2018 victory came after years of near misses. In 2016, its lead car broke down with just minutes to go.

While it will be designed as a road car, it’s possible the Toyota hypercar could also bring things full circle and hit the track. Beginning in 2020, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) — which includes Le Mans — will adopt new rules calling for race cars that more closely resemble hypercars like the GR Super Sport concept and Project One. Imagine those two mixing it up with Aston Martin Valkyries or Ferrari LaFerrari FXX Ks, and you’ve got a good idea of where this is going.

“We started this project because we believe that creating a super sports car that delivers the same appeal as the TS050 Hybrid greatly adds to Toyota’s involvement in the WEC,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota motor-sports arm Gazoo Racing. “And at some point in the future, customers will have a chance to get behind the wheel of this incredible machine and experience its astonishing power and driving performance.”

Given the astronomical cost of hypercars, it’s unlikely that most people will ever get that experience. But Toyota is planning a new Supra sports car for those of more modest means.

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