Toyota Unveils 'Green' Sports Car

Company says there is huge demand 'among middle-aged men who have fond memories of the Corolla 86'

Toyota introduced a new lightweight, sporty concept car inspired by an iconic coupe from the 1980s, saying its vision of the future was both mean and green.

With a low center of gravity and a special two-liter boxer engine developed by partner Subaru, the rear-wheel drive FT-86 is said to handle like a race car but with less damage to the environment.

The cherry-red concept car, which will go on display at this month's Tokyo Motor Show, aims to rekindle passion for its Corolla AE86 of the 1980s.

"Everyone thinks sports cars won't sell but there is a huge demand, particularly among middle-aged men who have fond memories of the Corolla 86 and who would like to drive it once again," Toyota engineer Tetsuya Tada said.

Toyota will also display a new version of its electric concept car -- based on its compact Toyota iQ -- at the Tokyo Motor Show, which opens to the public from October 24 through November 4.

The four-seater FT-EV II runs on lithium-ion batteries and has a top speed of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) an hour. The electric concept car, less than three meters (9.9 feet) long, has solar panels on its roof and is designed to be easily recharged at shopping malls or at home.

Toyota, the pioneer of petrol-electric hybrid cars, has said it aims to launch an electric car in the U.S. by 2012.

"We think the time is almost ripe for cost levels, batteries and performance to evolve one step further," said Akihiro Yanaka, who oversees the FT-EV II project.

Toyota's smaller rival Nissan plans to roll-out the world's first mass-produced electric car next year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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