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Toyota sports car to arrive in 2011 with Subaru engine

From Automotive News:

Toyota sports car to arrive in 2011 with Subaru engine
Hans Greimel
Automotive News
April 10, 2008 - 10:46 am ET


TOKYO -- Toyota's long-anticipated sports car will arrive in 2011. It will be jointly developed with Subaru and boast a boxer engine.

The compact, rear-wheel-drive " affordable" car will be built at a new Japanese plant to be set up by Fuji Heavy Industries, parent of the Subaru brand.

Each company will market the car separately and badge it as its own.

The model is part of a sweeping expansion of the tie-up between the Japanese companies.

At a news conference here today, CEO Katsuaki Watanabe also said that Toyota Motor Corp. would boost its stake in Fuji Heavy to 16.5 percent, from its current 8.7 percent.

Toyota will pay 31.1 billion yen ($311 million) for the increased holding, effectively snapping up the last of the shares sold back to Fuji Heavy by General Motors in 2005.

Under the growing partnership, Toyota will supply Fuji Heavy with a compact car. Fuji Heavy also will start receiving minivehicles -- cars with engines no bigger than 660cc -- from Toyota affiliate Daihatsu, starting in 2009.

No more minicars
Fuji Heavy will eventually jettison all of its own minicar development.
Under the hood of the sports car will be Subaru's trademark horizontally opposed engine. The companies did not say how many cylinders the engine will have.

The car will sit on a new Subaru platform and be " designed" by Toyota, the companies said.

" I think there is high potential for this car," Watanabe said, adding that it will be sold in Japan and overseas. " We haven't had a sports car for a long time.
This is a long-awaited-for model."

Pricing would be " not prohibitively high," he said.

Other details, such as engine displacement and production volume, are under wraps. But Fuji Heavy President Ikuo Mori said he has driven the test vehicle and is pleased.
"I'm confident we have an excellent car," Mori said.

New Fuji plant
Fuji Heavy will build a plant next to its Gunma Oizumi engine and transmission factory to manufacture the sports car. It will start operation in late 2011.
Work there may expand to include other Toyota-commissioned vehicles, Mori said. Fuji Heavy is deciding how big to make the plant and how much money to invest.

The new car fills a gap left by the retirement of the MRS two-seater. Toyota's midengined MR2 dates back to 1984. It was rechristened the MRS in 1999 and retired last year.

Other sporty models over the years have included the Celica, which was discontinued in 2006, and the Supra, on the roads for nearly a quarter of a century from 1978 to 2002.

Watanabe said the success of the joint manufacturing at Fuji Heavy's Lafayette, Ind., plant pushed him to go ahead with the sports car. That plant now makes Camrys for Toyota.

" We thought what might be the next step," he said. " Fuji Heavy is a very reliable partner. I hope to identify new areas for collaboration as we continue with the relationship."
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