Toyota may reveal electric or hydrogen-powered AE86

As the industry shifts to alternative fuels and some cities consider the ban of gasoline cars altogether, how will enthusiasts enjoy their classic cars? Some automakers, like Mini and Aston Martin, are working on electric motor conversion kits for their historic models. Toyota might be taking the first steps in that direction too, as reports out of Japan say they will soon reveal two “carbon-neutral” AE86s.

The report comes from Best Car magazine, whose Japanese sources say that Toyota will exhibit two AE86s with “new generation powertrains” at the Tokyo Auto Salon. You can see the pair on the stage in Toyota’s official TAS mockup above. That would indicate they are cars of importance, grabbing even more spotlight than their rally cars, endurance racers, and Le Mans winner.

Toyota issued an accompanying release stating that “Toyota leaves no car lovers behind” along with themes of “carbon neutrality to protect beloved
cars”. It seems the AE86s are there to mark a way for enthusiasts to enjoy their hydrocarbon-spewing cars in a zero-emissions age.

Best Car predicts that the AE86s will have two different drivetrains, a fully battery-electric one and a hydrogen-combustion one. The electric one is perhaps an obvious guess. The hydrogen one is based off of Toyota’s GR Corolla H2 racer, which uses the car’s 1.6-liter three-cylinder converted to burn hydrogen and has been participating in Japan’s Super Taikyu endurance series.

Toyota’s chief engineer of the program, Naoyuki Sakamoto, told us that the only things changed on the engine were the fuel delivery system, fuel injectors co-developed with Denso, and ignition system. That, and an on-board hydrogen tank. A traditional gasoline engine could be converted to burn H2 with essentially no changes to the internals. This may deliver the most “natural” driving feel while emitting no carbon dioxide. In fact, Sakamoto said the throttle response was somewhat improved. He also made sure to point out that the hydrogen fuel was created using renewable energy from a solar plant.

We won’t know for sure what Toyota has planned until the Tokyo Auto Salon opens, but it’s an interesting development for sure. The AE86 makes sense as a starting point, as it’s probably Toyota’s most popular enthusiast car. Older Supras and MR2s are too rare these days, but there are enough AE86s left on the streets of Japan that a conversion package could actually be sold. We just hope, like Mini, they make it reversible.

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4 Responses to Toyota may reveal electric or hydrogen-powered AE86

  1. Mark Newton-John says:

    I’d rather have a hydrogen car than a EV only one. If you want to take a long trip, you can refuel a hydrogen car in minutes, otherwise waiting a a charging station for a few hours….
    Like going from SoCal to Nor Cal, instead of say a seven hour trip, it extends to ten to twelve because you have recharge the damned thing every couple hundred miles.
    Cross country? Forget it.

    • nlpnt says:

      The refueling setups you’re talking about don’t exist and by the time they could be built out to the level EV charging is at now (let alone gas stations…) electric will have become the standard and nobody will want to go back to having to go to a refueling station as a weekly errand the 50 or so weeks a year they’re not on a road trip.

      It’s long past time for Toyota and Honda (and BMW) to stop putting good money after bad on hydrogen.

  2. f31roger says:

    I hope Nissan does. I love the styling of the 90s car and typically I don’t care what engine comes in it.

    For the longest, I always kept the engine stock and worried about keeping it maintained.

    I would definitely be in the line to put an electric motor in my M30. Hopefully that gets rid of the EPA and CARB crap they keep enforcing older cars to abide by.

    but for now, I just want to enjoy my RB25det for a few years.

  3. Jeff says:

    Here’s the official video from Toyota Gazoo Racing on this:

    I hope we can get a version with English subs at some point, but even without them it’s still good. The hydrogen version actually uses a 4AG, very very cool, and the driving impressions on the BEV one seemed extremely positive. I think it’s really cool of Toyota to offer both options. I’ve always felt BEV conversions of classic cars where the engine wasn’t important to the overall experience and character of the car are a great way to go. I’m thinking things like Citroen DS, VW Westfalia, Toyota Century, Rolls Royce, etc. On the other hand, taking a car like any Ferrari or Lamborghini V12, a BMW E46 M3, or even, yes, our humble little Corollas with their iconic 4AG and removing that key component of the engine, really detracts from the overall defining experience of those vehicles. This is the same reason I don’t really like engine swaps in AE86s that ditch the 4AG and its various sub-variants. So having the potential option of a hydrogen 4AG, Columbo V12, or Bizzarrini V12 far into the future is very cool.

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