Toyota’s Formula One exit won’t signal a dramatic change in road car strategy for the firm, according to a senior company source.
The firm pulled out of the sport earlier today to cut costs, but a source told Autocar that it would be business as usual at the Japanese firm under new president Akio Toyoda.
“We entered F1 when we weren’t as big as we are now,” said the source. “It was about making a statement to the world about who we are and what we were about and you could argue either way whether we’ve achieved that.”
Under new president Toyoda, the firm wants to return to making exciting road cars, which is seen with the new Toyota FT-86 and Lexus LFA models.
When Honda pulled out of the sport last year, the firm made it clear that the money saved would be reinvested into road car development, specifically the development of green models. The source said, however, that this wouldn’t necessarily be the case with Toyota.
“Toyota is such a huge company that development and R&D on all different types of road cars would be going on anyway,” said the source. “Just because we’ve pulled out, we’re not suddenly going to be putting all our money saved into building new supercars or hybrids.”
The source also said that technology and understanding learned in the sport wasn’t likely to filter back down to road cars.
“When did we last see anything from an F1 car on a road car?” he said. “The R&D on roads cars is now so advanced and far removed from F1 that we’re probably ahead of what they know in many aspects already.”
The source said he didn’t expect the firm to “suddenly build a new Supra or Celica” with money saved from the F1 project and it remained committed to its plans to have a hybrid model in every range by 2020.
“As we’re such a big firm, we need models in every sector,” said the source. “We’re still going to see lots more hybrids, but Toyoda has made it very clear to R&D that we need more exciting cars and you’ll start to see that with future models.
“That means the next Auris, for example, can still have comfort, practicality and reliability, but a lot of the emphasis is likely to be switched onto improving things like the handling.”