Takumi's new old car: Toyota presents EV conversion for AE86 with 6MT, plus a hydrogen-burning one

"Leaving no car lovers behind" is Toyota's precept behind their exhibition at the ongoing 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon. Slightly sentimental, yes, but the proof of that is in seeing their cars of yesteryear make it to today's show – exemplifying that is this pair of concept AE86s; one fuelled by hydrogen (H2), and the other, pure electric (BEV).

Carbon neutrality through old cars

First, a bit of background.   Toyota Motor Corporation's (TMC) outlook on carbon neutrality doesn't solely tunnel on new EVs, but also includes the development of carbon neutral fuel (CNF) alongside hydrogen, for older and new cars alike.


The reasoning is that greater positive impact can be had if the older cars (which new cars cannot outnumber, per the slide above) are carbon neutral, instead of forcing everyone to dump them and get new EVs at the outset.

Majoritively, these technologies are studied through racing (via President Akio Toyoda-owned ORC Rookie Racing), though road-going advancements have been made.

Also read: To continue his teacher's dream, Akio Toyoda is racing in Thailand to show 5 solutions are better than 1

The all-electric Lexus UX300e, already in Indonesia, has been earmarked for Malaysia

On the other hand, Lexus champions the pure electric agenda. Toyota's luxury arm have committed to be a 100 percent EV brand come 2035, with a goal to sell 1 million BEVs by 2030.

This specialisation is behind the development of today's AE86s. The electric one uses knowhow from Lexus, while the other utilises Toyota's grasp of hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

Also read: Checkmate? Toyota to sell 3.5 million EVs by 2030, unveils 16 models, 14 more coming - world's largest EV player?

Toyota Corolla AE86 H2 Concept

Like the Corolla Cross H2 Concept we had a go in, the Trueno keeps its internal combustion engine – in fact, it's still a 4A-GE!

Changes to the 1.6-litre engine mainly centres around the fueling system. Out goes the petrol tank, and into the boot goes two high-pressure hydrogen tanks from the Toyota Mirai FCEV.

Also read: This humble 6MT hydrogen-burning Toyota Corolla Cross may be enthusiasts' saving grace, here's why

Not a fuel-cell stack; this car burns hydrogen

Modifications have been kept at a minimum, encapsulating just the fuel pipes and injectors, as well as spark plugs. We're just as excited as you are to know the outputs, but those figures aren't made clear just yet.

Japanese media on ground says that this car still uses port injection. Though this insistence results in lower power (direct injection allows for high pressure and greater control of air/fuel mixture, resulting in more power), the goal is to maintain the engine's high-revving character.

Also read: 2020 Proton X50 has 2 turbo engines – one direct injection, one port, what’s the difference?

Yet that's certainly not without its benefits. Masahiro Sasaki, who races the hydrogen-powered GR Corolla, says he can still "feel the AE86's high-revving feeling."

If you've heard a 4A-GE pull, it's something you probably won't want to sacrifice. Hence, its why his testament is a good start as any, and improvements to this technology is worth waiting for. 

Toyota Corolla AE86 EV Concept

Lexus' boffins have had their work cut out for this project. Batteries and all their ancillaries are heavy, but in order to keep the Levin as the lightweight, donut-making liftback people love it as, some creative thinking and parts-bin raiding had to be done.

To make the AE86 BEV, parts from other models in TMC's stable were used.  Juice comes from the battery of a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (PHEV), mated to an electric motor from the Toyota Tundra pick-up truck.

Also read: Sold out in 1 day, 2023 Toyota Prius has a 1 year waiting period in Japan and USA

Power output is a little tame (93 PS, versus the stock 4A-GE's 130-160 PS, depending on year and spec) but as expected there's more torque: 190 Nm, vs 142-162 Nm of the ol' petrol four-banger.

However, weight is still below the one-tonne mark, tipping the scales at 960 kg.

The best part is that this AE86 makes no sacrifice in the fun side of things. It gets a six-speed manual! But, what does it mean for us?

Also read: Here's why the manual transmission still matters

Takashi Watanabe, Chief Engineer of Lexus Electrified, says the three pedal format doesn't have to die in the age of green propulsion. In fact, Lexus has been toying around with manual EVs with the UX300e, in which there's footage of a 6MT variant of it driving around (skip to 14:30 in the video below).

“There is nothing more engaging for a passionate driver than to be able to shift gears manually for the right amount of torque at any time. It has delivered so much fun that this project is now under serious development. It might even be featured in our future BEVs,” he said.


Other than the AE86 twins, Toyota also revealed this pair of special-edition GR Yaris

Besides their carbon neutral powertrain, both cars use sustainable items where possible. The Bride bucket seats are used albeit refreshed, while the seatbelts and their pads are made of recycled materials.

Though these cars might be imperfect at this point of time, they provide a clear vision: the future Toyota sees is one where the car you grew up with can be with you in the years to come. Just much cleaner.

Also read: The goal is not to produce cars, but happiness. Move Your World previews Toyota's future mobility solutions

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