Toyota shows hydrogen and electric AE86 concepts

If the future of classic cars looks like this, sign us up

By Matt Bird / Friday, 13 January 2023 / Loading comments

When Toyota previewed its Tokyo show lineup, it spoke of aiming at ‘carbon neutrality for protecting beloved cars’. A nice sentiment that, though for those feeling a tad cynical this January, you might not have expected much from. But then an empty promise wouldn’t have been a Toyota promise, and here’s what it views as carbon-neutral beloved cars: a pair of AE86 Corollas, one powered by batteries and one powered by hydrogen.

The EV-converted AE86 Levin (with the green decals and conventional lights) uses the battery from a plug-in Prius and the motor from a Tundra HEV; most interestingly, there’s a little gearknob sprouting out between the seats, this car incorporating Toyota’s emerging manual technology for EVs. The press release even goes as far as to suggest that this car offers ‘even greater driving pleasure than the original’, which is some claim with the legendary 4A-GE twin cam no longer in an ’86. On the other hand, Toyota maintains that the original weight and balance ‘were maintained as much as possible’, so there’s hope.

For those that must have an engine in their reimagined rear-drive Corolla, the H2 Trueno concept keeps the 1.6 (now sporting a very fetching blue cam cover) and pairs it with two hydrogen storage tanks from the Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle. They’re nestled in the boot like NOS tanks would have been 20 years ago. Changes to spark plugs, fuel pipes and injectors ‘have been kept to a minimum’. Furthermore, Toyota also believes this AE86 is proof of its ‘making ever-better motorsports-bred cars”, as it’s been developed with input from both Toyota Gazoo Racing and Rookie Racing, teams that have been campaigning hydrogen-powered racers in Super Taikyu. Don’t forget Toyota has made a hydrogen powered Yaris for rallying, and a V8 alongside Yamaha, so really is committed to the technology. We’ll gloss over its current unsuitably in the UK for now and just bask in the glory of a stunning ’86, recycled Bride seats and all.

While there’s no mention yet of any commercial availability, the fact that concepts like these Corollas exist must be seen as a positive. They preview a world where cars like this can still thrive. An electric car with some simulation of a manual feels like a step in the right direction for those that actually like driving, too. All we need now is for Toyota to make progress in fossil-free fuel, then the future really will look bright.

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