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Toyota casts doubt on future of Hybrid tech at Le Mans

Despite being one of the world's biggest Hybrid motor technology innovators, Toyota suggests it should not be racing it over 24 hours.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda has caused controversy by suggesting the Hybrid technology that underpins the LMP1 formula is not ready to compete in a race as the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Japanese firm's wait for the elusive Le Mans trophy continues on for another year after technical issues struck two of its three cars, forcing the long-time race leading #7 entry into retirement, before an on track collision eliminated its third TS050 Hybrid.

With the race already suffering from a depleted LMP1 line-up after Audi withdrew from the sport, only five LMP1 Hybrid cars would take to the start of the 2017 Le Mans but four would be hobbled by either terminal or lengthy issues.

In the end, victory was clinched by the #2 Porsche even though it spent nearly an hour in the pits early in the race with front axle issues, only denying a shock win for the LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing team with little more than an hour of the race remaining.

The issues have served to highlight the demands placed on the Hybrid technology, which while successful at World Endurance Championship level where they compete over six hours, cannot sustain relentless 24 hour action, according to Toyota President Toyoda.

“This time, both Porsche and we, Toyota, were not able to complete without incident 24 hours of driving in the hybrid cars that we put to the challenge on the roads of Le Mans.

“Both even winning car No. 2 and our car No. 8, which completed the race, were forced to undergo time-consuming, trouble-caused repairs, before struggling to cross the finish line.

“While the hybrid technology that has advanced through competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship puts its abilities on display in six-hour races, it might be that it is not yet ready for the long distance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The power of electricity is absolutely necessary for cars to take on a more-emotional presence.

“Le Mans is a precious laboratory in which we can continue to take up the challenges related to the technologies involved, putting such technologies to the test in an extreme environment.

With the ACO and FIA keen to push the environmentally friendly ethos towards international sportscar racing after confirming it will integrate plug-in electric technology from 2020, though Toyota is yet to confirm whether it will return next season Toyoda suggests it will continue developing in this direction.

“We will hone our technologies even further and ripen them to provide our customers with technologies that will truly make them smile. And we, Toyota, will go on making effort after effort so that we can continue making ever-better cars."



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Mullet

June 19, 2017 12:48 PM

The title of this news item is misguided. Quote from Toyoda is "...it might be that it [hybrid technology] is not yet ready for the long distance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.The power of electricity is absolutely necessary for cars to take on a more-emotional presence." So, he does not really cast doubt, he is saying the technology is moving towards being able to go on for the full 24 hours. Interpreted, this is trying to focus issue from the failure of Toyota to the failures of Porsches as well, and stating that though Toyota is leader in this technology, nobody can do it flawlessly. Toyoda is polishing their own shield by calling attention to the flaws of others.



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