Toyota has unveiled its exhibits for this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS), with the ones featured being in line with the notion of “carbon neutrality for protecting beloved cars.” Under carbon neutrality, the Japanese carmaker is looking to expand its scope to include not just new cars, but also those that its customers cherish. As such, the company is presenting two concepts based on the iconic AE86.
The first of the two concepts that Toyota president Akio Toyoda presented on stage is the AE86 BEV, which is exactly what you think it is. Based on the Corolla Levin, the show car houses a Prius PHEV battery in its boot that powers a front-mounted electric motor taken from a Tundra HEV.
The company hasn’t revealed technical details of its creation, but it did say that the electric vehicle features a manual transmission and clutch, which is something it has been working on – watch a Lexus prototype in action here.
Toyoda also pointed that the Corolla Levin was born half a century ago and it already had the two letters – ‘E’ and ‘V’ – in its name. “So it took us 50 years to finally install a battery and motor onto a Levin,” he said on stage. “Of course, the original 4A-GE is a treasure for us, so we removed it with the greatest care,” he added.
While hardcore fans might find the AE86 BEV blasphemous, the other AE86 concept might be a little easier to digest. It’s called the AE86 H2 and it keeps the well-loved 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine, but modified to run on hydrogen instead, with pair of Mirai hydrogen tanks in the boot. Other modifications, including fuel injectors, fuel pipes, and spark plugs, have been kept to the minimum.
Hydrogen combustion engines is another area that Toyota has explored before, as evident by a Corolla race car that competed in the five-hour Super Taikyu endurance race in 2021. There was also a GR Yaris that used hydrogen as fuel, which was presented in December that same year. As with the EV concept, Toyota did not provide detailed information of its hydrogen-powered concept.
Remarkable as there concepts are, they also serve to make a point. According to Toyoda, full carbon neutrality cannot be achieved through new car sales alone. In an on-screen slide, he pointed out that new car sales only account for 5% of total owned vehicles of around 1.5 billion units.
As such, even if all new car sales are battery electric vehicles (BEVs), there are still plenty on the road what are not carbon zero. These concepts therefore are practical demonstrations of providing options to customers to run cars they already own on cleaner energy, which is an idea that has existed for some time. Just look at the EV conversions offered by various companies that allow owners to continue enjoying their classic cars.