Toyota faces the challenge of rebuilding its reputation for quality after the extensive recalls that it had issued. According to President Akio Toyoda, its lineup will offer more fun and performance. Since June 2009 when Toyoda had started as president of the company, orders for the Lexus LFA $375,000 supercar have been taken.
Toyota is developing an "affordable" rear-wheel drive sports coupe and it's believed to also soon offer a sporty version of the Prius. In many cases, customers, who initially wanted a sports car, choose instead to buy a Toyota Prius hybrid for its incomparable fuel efficiency.
Ashvin Chotai, the managing director of Intelligence Automotive Asia Ltd., an industry consultant, said that cars such as the LFA are "brand-builders in the overall product portfolio." He added that focus of these cars, which are found at the periphery of Toyota's business model, isn't the volume but the excitement they offer.
These projects are included in the new Sports Vehicle Management Division that Toyota established in January, only a month before Toyoda went to Washington to face congressional questioning on the recalls due to unintended acceleration cases.
According to a company statement, this unit expands a similar group created by Toyoda in 2007 and aims to "reinforce sports vehicle product planning."
The company's first supercar was the 2000GT, which was featured in the 1967 James Bond movie, "You Only Live Twice," starring Sean Connery. "Toyota used to have cool sports cars like the Supra and Corolla Levin," said Kosuke Kakizawa, a sports car fan in Tokyo.