Electric sports car: Toyota takes on Tesla

Most automakers are being cautious with their initial electric offerings, but customers are begging for something more exciting. Toyota is rising to the challenge with plans for an electric sports car to rival electric automaker Tesla.

David Zalubowski/AP/File
This Feb. 19, 2012 file photo shows a line of 2012 Prius sedans at a Toyota dealership in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, Colo. Toyota is developing an electric sports car, according to reports.

While electric-only automaker Tesla pushes ahead with its Model S sedan, the upcoming Model X crossover and others on the horizon, other electric automakers are taking a more cautious approach with their first forays.

The Mitsubishi i, Nissan Leaf and others are worthy additions to the market, but some customers are begging for something a little more exciting--and Toyota could be the brand to deliver it.

Autocar reports that the Japanese carmaker is planning an electric sports car, following the launch of an electric city car.

Both vehicles would take lessons learned from Toyota's beautiful 2000GT EV conversion that wowed crowds at the recent Goodwood Fesitval of Speed.

Toyota is running an electric example of the exceedingly rare 1960s sports car, which actually uses a manual gearbox--a little like the Morgan Plus E concept car shown at this year's Geneva Motor Show.

Toyota's Hiroyuki Ogawa told Autocar, Toyota has "...a desire to use a manual gearbox in our electric and hybrid sports cars". He describes the current CVT from Toyota's hybrids as "efficient but not fun", and suggests a manual transmission gives a better feel for the driver.

A manual gearbox is also likely to find its way into a hybrid sports car in the next three years, according to Ogawa.

Will Toyota's electric sports car plans encourage Nissan to follow suit with its ESFLOW concept? We certainly hope so.

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