DETROIT - Toyota sent a very 'simple' message at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Here is the reveal speech presented by Calty Design Research President Kevin Hunter:
Ladies and gentlemen…the Toyota FT-1. This is a symbol of Toyota's design future…a spiritual pace car for a changing, evolving Toyota.
Not long ago, Akio Toyoda challenged his designers to create cars that spark people's emotions…cars that make them say, "I want this…I HAVE to drive this!"
His message has always been very simple…Make it cool!
I can tell you, Toyota's designers are absolutely passionate about designing cool cars. Our goal at Calty was to answer that challenge by creating a truly exciting, high performance, sexy halo sports car…period.
Sports cars represent the ultimate driving expression in its purest form. As car enthusiasts ourselves, this is the kind of project we dream about working on.
Beyond its obvious five-alarm visual impact, FT-1 is symbolic of a new chapter for Toyota Global Design. This provocative concept truly captures the passion, excitement, and energy of the Toyota we are evolving into…and embodies elements of the emotion and performance that Toyota will imprint upon future production designs.
For many years, Toyota has approached product development relying on a strong influence from the market through consumer studies, and a high degree of internal consensus. The goal was to produce a vehicle that was liked by everyone…and as a result, we took less risk and tried not to stray too far from designs that had been a success.
But with the head of the company saying, "Show me style that stirs people's emotions and makes them say I want to drive this,"…Toyota's design efforts are less reliant on consensus now. We have empowered our designers and engineers to develop a creative and passionate vision of future mobility. The goal is simple, yet profound…develop future generations of products that connect on an emotional level.
As a result of this new global commitment, we expect to develop the most capable, most exciting generation of vehicles the company has ever produced.
Even the name FT-1 stands for Future Toyota, and the number 1…of course…represents the ultimate.
The ultimate world-class sports car…with the ultimate performance envelope…a true enthusiast track car in the iconic lineage of 2000GT and Supra.
As you might recall, Calty has a proud history of designing sports cars:
The 1978 Celica…
The Lexus SC400…
The FT-HS…and as revealed here two years ago, the Lexus LF-LC concept.
So it's fitting that FT-1 is introduced to you on the occasion of Calty's 40th anniversary. As the chief designer in North America, I am fired up about the future of Toyota design.
I would now like to introduce Alex Shen, a true car geek and Calty's Studio Chief Designer, to tell you more about this stunning concept.
Calty Design Research Studio Chief Designer Alex Shen:
Thank you Kevin. The FT-1 concept began as an initial study nearly 2 years ago, as a "dream mission" of expressing the ULTIMATE Toyota sports car design.
It signifies a labor of love by a passionate, dedicated and highly focused team of designers, and sculptors, who truly LOVE cars.
The FT-1 design draws heavily on Toyota's long sports car heritage. Cars like the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, and FR-S were studied and their influence resonates in the execution of this design.
The FT-1 is powerful and agile…visual excitement that is born from a rational consideration of fundamental sports car requirements.
On the exterior, ‘Function-Sculpting' was our key term to imagine the FT-1 design. We wanted it to look as if it was beautifully sculpted by the wind while providing functional cooling to optimize aerodynamic performance…it gets your heart racing just looking at it.
The deeply sculpted intakes and outlets have sexy, curvaceous surfaces and transitions. This was our approach in creating "beautiful solutions to manage dirty air."
The FT-1 features a glass window to showcase the heart and soul of the sports car, a high output, internal combustion engine.
The interior of FT-1 is all about creating a purpose-built space for serious driving.
The unique slingshot cockpit immerses the driver to provide an exhilarating sensation of being one with the car and the road.
With emphasis on lightweight component architecture, we took a minimalist approach to form and function. There is just the right amount of padding only in the areas that come in contact with the driver or passenger.
The interior features a fighter jet inspired heads-up display is positioned above the steering wheel and projected out ahead of the driver to keep the eyes focused on the road.
The human-machine interface is enhanced by controls located on the steering wheel, with a four-quadrant layout, enabling the driver's hands to remain firmly on the steering wheel.
You may have noticed that we opened this press conference with video footage from the new Gran Turismo 6 driving simulator. We collaborated with the Gran Turismo team to develop a virtual FT-1 and it was used as a tool to pitch the concept to Akio Toyoda.
Before reviewing the physical model, he drove the FT-1 on Fuji Speedway in GT6. He gave us a thumbs up when he finished his virtual lap faster than his best time in his own LFA in real life.
Akio had so much fun driving this car that we felt that it was only right that you too get a chance to set your personal best lap times. Beginning tomorrow, the FT-1 will be available as a downloadable vehicle for Gran Turismo 6 game owners.
As a special gift for our credentialed-media here today, Toyota will be passing out copies of the Gran Turismo 6 game at the conclusion of this press conference.
Before we invite you all up to the stage, I'd like to introduce the FT-1 team that helped bring this dream to life…William Chergosky, Tom Matsumoto, Bob Mochizuki, Andrew MacLachlan, Sellene Lee and Tim Farnam.
Kevin and I, along with the rest of the team will be up here on stage to answer any questions that you may have. Thank you all very much for your time today. I'd now like to invite photographers up here first to get some pictures of the FT-1.