Counting the cost
The price isn’t right for Toyota’s new coupe, writes Peter Lyon in Japan
THE upcoming Toyota FT-86 has already taken its first hit — more than 18 months before it makes it to showrooms.
The compact coupe is supposed to reinvigorate Brand T and draw new, younger buyers, but Toyota insiders say it has already run into cost problems.
Toyota was originally aiming for a starting price in the low $20,000 range — at least in the US — but that has already slipped by more than $5000 and the fully equipped car is now likely to be beyond $30,000 in America.
Costs for the car — called the Toyobaru because it shares its chassis and drivetrain with the Subaru Impreza — have ballooned from the initial budget because the research-and-development team is focusing more work on minimising fuel-consumption figures and producing the cleanest engine possible.
Subaru’s boxer engines are traditionally not considered to be that clean or fuel-efficient, which is the reason for the extra work.
FT-86 development group head Tetsuya Tada says market research led his team to lift the car’s target buyer age by 10 years, up from thirtysomething to fortysomething.
But for a bargain basementpriced concept supposed to inject interest back into Toyota’s lowerend sports car line-up, the price hike will be a slap in the face to the beancounters in Japan.
Compact but costly: a price increase has dampened Toyota’s hopes of the FT-86 coupe (interior above) appealing to younger buyers.