Hallelujah! It's been absent from dealer showrooms for more than a decade, but Toyota is supposedly ready to begin development on a fifth-generation Supra.
Toyota hasn't offered a sports-derived vehicle since the 2007 MR-2, it stopped selling the Celica in 2006, and the Supra has been absent from the automaker's lineup since 1998. At last year's Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota revealed the FT-86 sports coupe -- a glimmer of hope, but the joint project with Subaru might be delayed until 2013, according to some reports.
But as of last Friday, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda announced that he had given engineers the go-ahead to begin development of an all-new, fifth-generation Supra. And according to a recent statement, the development process for the proposed Supra successor might be faster than that of a normal project, and Toyoda acknowledged the project's relative importance to the brand.
"Even if one president says that we want to have a Supra again, the whole company is not going to be responding to that request," Toyoda said.
Reports suggest that the next Supra may indeed be ready to launch in the 2013 or 2014 model year, which corresponds to the timeline of the proposed FT-86 coupe. If the production Supra is anything like the FT-HS concept of 2007, it will employ a 3.5-liter V-6 coupled with an electric motor. The concept car was said to make 400 horsepower and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.
The Japanese automaker may be taking a slightly different route, if plans for a collaborative effort with Tesla push forward. Were Toyota to utilize Tesla's drivetrain in its next-generation Supra, the finished product could deliver performance figures close to that of the Silicon Valley automaker's roadster. Featuring several thousand lithium-ion cells, the Tesla Roadster's electric motor produces 288 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, rocketing the car from 0 to 60 in just 3.7 seconds. Although Toyota announced today that two prototype SUVs will be fitted with Tesla battery powertrain, there's still promise for an electrified supercar.
Would the Supra be successful with an electric powertrain? Let us know what you think in the comments section.