No, Toyota’s sexy new concept isn’t named after a stock index


To perhaps nobody’s surprise, 2023’s Japan Mobility Show has been heavy on electric vehicles. Toyota is using the show to debut some neat models, from a small pickup that looks nearly production-ready, and may be the long-awaited answer to dealers’ pleas, to an electric version of the stalwart Land Cruiser and the car seen here: a gorgeous sports car that could be a sign of where the automaker’s in-house performance brand, Gazoo Racing (GR), will head.

The sports car is called the FT-Se—not a particularly sexy name, any way you slice it. It’s just a concept right now, but the low-slung coupe has very mid-engined proportions that make it look like a Lotus or Porsche Cayman fighter. We’re getting whiffs of an electric version of the MR2, a lively little runabout that hasn’t graced any market since 2007.

FTSe side profile Japan Mobility Show

Toyota says the FT-Se is “a high-performance BEV model proposed as one of the options for sports cars in the carbon-neutral era, incorporating the expertise gained in Toyota Gazoo Racing’s efforts to make ever-better cars through motorsports.”

Of course, there isn’t an engine hiding underneath that sleek bodywork. We’d bet on some combination of electric motors, two or maybe four in total—perhaps one on each axle, one at every corner, or, hopefully, one at each of the rear wheels. The renderings show a version of the car with a snazzy rear wing, but the car revealed on stage in Tokyo goes without it. Maybe an upgraded aero package offering someday?

Inside we can see a very digital cockpit replete with screens ahead of and to either side of the yoke-type steering wheel. One thing that’s not clear is whether the FT-Se would incorporate the electric “stick-shift” technology that Toyota has quietly been testing. Renderings of the cockpit would indicate no, but hey—never say never. Dodge seemed all but guaranteed to “never” make a gasoline-powered muscle car again, but a report that surfaced yesterday now indicates otherwise.

The FT-Se shares “major components” with the FT-3e, a more mass-market–focused concept that debuted alongside the sportier FT-Se. We’d bet that those shared major components include the batteries and the electric motor setup. In the brief description of the latter, Toyota points out that the FT-3e can serve “as a transfer medium for energy and data from the vehicle and its surroundings.” We’d infer that both of these concepts, should they reach the production stage, will have the capability to lend their battery’s juice to an owner’s house or the local power grid, like the Ford F-150 Lightning and many other EVs either on sale already or arriving soon.

It’s not hard to imagine a world where the business case works out for the FT-3e; that thing already looks strikingly similar in profile to Toyota’s bZ4X. The FT-Se may be a harder sell, but the shared components between the two should help. Akio Toyoda, the former CEO of Toyota turned chairman of the board, made it clear in recent years that he wanted his company’s cars to be perceived as more exciting. An electric MR2 reboot would absolutely fit that brief. Let’s cross our fingers.




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