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Toyota To Develop New Affordable Sports Car

TRAVERSE CITY, MI—Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda said at an industry conference this morning that the automaker will bring an exciting, fun-to-drive affordable sports car” to market within the next few years.

For years, Toyota sold such a car—the Celica. That car was discontinued in 2006. The company also did away with the MR-2 roadster in 2007. Currently, the closest thing the company offers in an affordable sports car is the Scion tC.

The car will come out of a joint venture project between Toyota and Subaru, with both companies getting a vehicle from the arrangement. Toyota officials would not say whether the car will be sold in the U.S. as a Toyota or Scion brand. They also did not conform the car will have all-wheel-drive, or the “boxer” engine that Subaru has long been committed to.

Toyoda, grandson to the company founder, is amdist a reorganization of the automaker, which posted an operating loss last year, brought about by the global Recession and precipitous drop in global auto sales.

His comments were made the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminar.

Toyoda is a racing enthusiast, taking turns behind the wheel to try and qualify professionally. He said he recently drove the Lexus LF-A supercar during a 24-hour endurance competition at Germany’s Nurburgring.

The market for sports cars, even affordable ones, is somewhat limited in the U.S. But Toyota believes that by the time it comes out with its new entry, the economy and auto sales will be in recovery. Too, Toyoda and other company executives have recently said the Toyota lineup lacks excitement and emotional design.

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