Toyota asked concept car designers in its California Calty Design Research Studio to prototype something that would be a "suitable sports car for the 21st Century." They came up with this radical concept. A key element was fun, yet still being fuel efficient and having ultra-low emissions.
With a window line reminiscent of the upcoming Skyline GT-R, the concept is Fifth Element futuristic. The hard-top roof retracts, via a new storage mechanism which is said to maintain structural rigidity when the roof is closed. Power comes from an evolved 3.5-liter, 400bhp, six-cylinder hybrid engine. It's designed as a rear-wheel-drive and would theoretically have a paddle-shift transmission, which could be a derivative of VW's DSG or Toyota's own variant. But it remains to be seen whether the car will even make it further than its 2007 Detroit motor show debut.
The production version (should this be the first bad-ass showcar to ever see production) would be priced lower than a Lexus LF-H or next-generation Supra. The target zero to 60mph time is four seconds dead, so this isn't your smug neighbor's Prius we're talking about.
Rumors&Lies* Honda, it's rumored, is deep into development of its first V8 for civilian use. To be installed in a replacement for the current Acura RL, a slightly less exotic version may find its way into the Honda Ridgeline pick-up. A slightly more exotic version will power a replacement for the NSX. Perhaps. Rumors of a V10 for the NSX seem to be fading.
* Reports from various sources say that Ford, which not long ago had 25 percent of the new vehicle market in North America, is expecting its share to slip down to about 11 percent in the next couple of years, before recovering to about 15 percent later in the next decade. Maybe if the second-generation Focus came over here the forecast would be better.
* General Motors' CEO, Rick Wagoner, told The Car Connection website that the company will sell more Buicks in China during 2007 than in the US. Buicks still sell in the US?
* GM has committed to keeping open its Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, even after its two products-the Ion and current Vue small SUV-are killed off this March. GM announced it will invest $225 million in the facility, but hasn't said what it will actually build there. Not necessarily Saturns.
* Malcolm Bricklin has given up his attempt to import the Chinese-made Chery small car into America. Several sources report the entrepreneur-who once brought us Subaru, Yugo and his own Bricklin sports car-is looking for new partners among Chinese vehicle manufacturers.
The Big TeasersVarious manufacturers are teasing us with partial photos, illustrations, or deep hints about what they'll be showing at the Detroit Auto Show-a mere few days after our print deadline. So here are the teases, with our fanciful guesses about what the manufacturers aren't telling us. Are we right or wrong? You know, because you're reading this in the future.