JULY 7, 2006

Toyota and Le Mans

With Audi having now become the first automobile manufacturer to win the Le Mans 24 Hours with a diesel engine, the next big target for the car manufacturers is to win the French endurance classic with a hybrid car. The word in Japan is that Toyota may soon be embarking on that challenge with a Japanese-based programme. On July 15-16 Toyota is entering a racing version of its Lexus GS450 hybrid touring car in the Tokachi 24 Hour race in Japan which features a petrol engine and an electric motor which are used alternately. The project is being run by Sard, a longtime Toyota partner in racing. One of the aims of the programme is to obtain technical feedback from the racing cars to see if it can be used on mass-production vehicles in the future with the main aim being to make the hybrid systems smaller, lighter and more efficient.