Toyota's AE86 Icon Revived With New Hydrogen and Electric Variants

BY Sean Loo

Gas Gas Gas... but not really. Toyota is showing us once again that saving the planet doesn’t necessarily mean giving up fun and exciting cars to drive, as shown by these AE86 concepts.

Toyota made a big splash at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, revealing a whole host of new cars and technologies. Exhibits like the 24-hour Le Mans winning car and the new 2024 Prius are cool and all, but what really stole the show was this special debut revealed by none other than Toyota president Akio Toyoda himself.

Keen Initial D fans will instantly recognise the pair of AE86 Corollas, with one in Trueno guise and the other a Levin. What’s so special about these two cars you might ask? Well, the pair were showcased with brand new hydrogen fuel cell and electric powertrains, a game-changer for the automotive industry.

Electric powerplant

The electric powertrain Levin, dubbed the AE86 BEV Concept, borrows a roster of parts from other Toyota models. An electric motor from Toyota’s Tundra Hybrid, a lithium-ion battery pack from the new Prius plug-in hybrid, and other parts from the Toyota and Lexus hybrid range.

Sugar, spice, and everything nice.

Delivering tofu in silence

The other AE86, based on the Trueno body style and dubbed the AE86 H2 concept, feels more at home with the general petrolhead, The car still retains its legendary 4A-GE heart, a real gem of the retro JDM world.

But, what’s really amazing is the fact that instead of petrol, the engine has been retrofitted to burn hydrogen, with the hydrogen being supplied from a Toyota Mirai tank at the back.

Nostalgia meets technology

Toyota really knows how to make us automotive enthusiasts happy, and both cars retain their original factory looks on the inside. They even have fully-functional manual transmissions complete with three pedals, although there isn’t mention of how this manual system actually works. Roll cages, bucket seats made from recycled materials, plus other retro trinkets in the cabin, and it’s almost like this rolled off the factory floor in the 80s.

Unfortunately, Toyota has not disclosed other details of the cars, which probably means mass production of these concept cars is an unlikely outcome. However, these show that Toyota is capable of producing fun cars with sustainable powertrains, and these proofs of concept restore faith in what is effectively a sea of boring EVs.

Mr Toyoda himself mentioned that achieving total carbon neutrality cannot be done just by simply depending on new electric vehicles. The total percentage of BEVs on the roads today only accounts for roughly 1/20 of the total number of vehicles worldwide today, and this number won’t increase that quickly.

Mr Toyoda finishes off by saying that these AE86s can be potential options for owners in the future, being able to swap out their traditional powertrains should stricter government laws about fossil fuels get enacted.

Carbon-neutral power sources without sacrificing driving fun. Way to go Toyota!