STEPHEN OTTLEY June 20, 2012
Toyota will launch a new performance range, called TMG.
Race division to develop high performance TMG range for Toyota and Lexus.
Toyota will launch a new performance division from the ashes of its defunct formula one team. Toyota Motorsport GmBH (TMG) president Yoshiaki Kinoshita confirmed that his company has begun work on high-performance road cars which will carry the TMG badge.
“I cannot show you today but we have such kind of car, not an AMG; change the A to T,” Kinoshita said.
“It’s official plan. After we stopped formula one, we decided several things. One of the things was to become a homologated [performance car] company.”
The first development is a Lexus LS460 sedan that is being heavily modified by the engineers at the state-of-the-art factory based in Cologne, Germany.
TMG technical director Pascal Vasselon said TMG would give the car a complete overhaul rather than just be a tuning operation.
“We are not looking to do tuning,” Vasselon said. “We are looking to do high-performance cars.”
The LS is powered a 485kW twin-turbo V8 petrol engine coupled to a dual-clutch transmission. It also features re-styled bodywork – including a large rear wing – and the suspension has also been overhauled.
It has already been tested at the Nurburgring in Germany and Japan; it is likely to debut at the Essen motor show in September.
But the LS is just one of several Lexus and Toyota models that TMG is assessing for its new hot-rod range.
One obvious choice for a higher performance version is the Toyota 86 sports car that recently went on sale. But tellingly Kinoshita ruled out the new 86 coupe because it was “too small” suggesting the initial plan calls for the bigger, more expensive Lexus models to be given priority.
“It’s one of the trials for which kind of car we can make,” Kinoshita said. “Our strong point is we can make special chassis and special engines and special aerodynamics. Our weakest point is how to get the [car to meet the stricter] Euro V emissions, how to get Euro VI, how to get homologations. So we are now learning these things.”
Although the final decision has yet to be made on going ahead with the TMG brand, Kinoshita is confident.
Vasselon said a decision could come before the end of the year.
“It’s something to be finalised in the next six to nine months,” Vasselon said.
“Which badge has on the car is one of the decision that needs to be made in the next few months.”
Toyota's history in performance tuned cars isn't strong; only recently it tried to take on local heroes HSV and FPV with a supercharged version of its Aurion large car and Hilux ute - sold under the TRD, or Toyota Racing Development badge - but the project flopped.
Toyota invested heavily in the TMG factory in Colonge during its time in formula one. It is capable of producing and testing every aspect of a racing car and can accommodate up to 1000 staff.
Asked if the idea was to turn the TMG factory into Toyota’s answer to AMG Kinoshita was quick to respond.
“Yes,” he said.
The factory is not big enough to produce the cars but would instead become the design and development of the cars.
TMG is also responsible for Toyota’s Le Mans program which uses a super capacitor hybrid system; which provides a larger power boost compared to a conventional hybrid system. Vasselon admitted that TMG has looked at using the super capacitors in the road cars.
“We have been thinking about it, but we have nothing actively in development,” he said.
Kinoshita also revealed that TMG is also working on a potential return to the World Rally Championship using a hybrid Yaris and a new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that can be used for rallying and the World Touring Car Championship.