Japanese website Spyder7 reports that Lexus is working on its own version of the new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 called the UC.
It’s rumored to use the same 228-hp 2.4-liter flat-four as the new Toyobaru rear-wheel-drive sports cars, but with a hybrid drivetrain making more power.
Lexus declined to comment on the existence of the new car, but reports say it could make its debut by the end of the year.
Lexus might have a hybrid version of the recently revealed Toyota GR86 on the way, if rumors from the Japanese website Spyder7are any indication. If this model comes to fruition, the new entry-level luxury rear-wheel-drive sports car would join the RC, RC F, and LC coupes in the Japanese automaker’s lineup. It’s said to be making its debut by the end of the year, and we’d love to see something like this in the States since many other small luxury coupes have disappeared.
It will reportedly be called the UC for “Urban Coupe,” using the same naturally aspirated 2.4-liter flat-four as the new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86. In those applications, the four-cylinder engine produces 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. We think it likely the Lexus would only be available with the automatic. The Lexus is expected to use a hybrid drivetrain with the flat-four in conjunction with an electric motor and battery pack, which should increase power over the BRZ and GR86.
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An alleged spy photo (above) of the car’s front end shows a Lexus spindle grille and the same overall shape of the Toyobaru siblings. The UC could be slightly stretched to accommodate the hybrid battery pack. The Subaru BRZ measures 167.9 inches in length. If the photo posted on Twitter does indeed show a prototype for the UC, we can also expect the production car to have other Lexus-specific trim pieces such as more angular lighting elements and larger wheels. The GR86 offers 18-inch wheels.
The UC’s interior should also be a step above the BRZ and GR86. The interiors of those two feature 8.0-inch touchscreens and a 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster. The 2022 Lexus NX crossover debuted a new infotainment system for the luxury automaker with a standard 9.8-inch touchscreen and an available 14.0-inch unit. We don’t expect the small sports car to get a screen that large, but it could be larger than the other two sports cars’ screens.
It’s unclear if the Lexus UC will be sold in North America, as entry-level sports cars including the Mercedes-Benz SLC-class have disappeared from luxury automakers’ lineups in our market. However, a Lexus spokesperson told Car and Driver that there are “some exciting things coming to Lexus.” We sure hope that includes
Honda has become the first of Japan’s automakers to state publicly it will phase out sales of gasoline-powered cars completely, setting 2040 as the goal and giving new CEO, Toshihiro Mibe, a once-in-a-career chance to put his stamp on a company that can trace its lineage back 84 years.
“It’s a very bold target,” said Yachiyo Tanaka, an analyst at automotive research company Fourin. “Honda has pledged to pull ahead of other automakers by introducing the latest technologies.”
The advantages, if Mibe can achieve the goal, are significant. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and companies with a first-mover advantage may capture market share.
EV penetration in the nation is 1 percent, well down on China, the world’s biggest market for electric cars, at around 6 percent.
But it’s a bet that stretches beyond Japan’s borders, too. Global sales of passenger EVs are set to rise sharply, jumping to 14 million in 2025 from 3.1 million in 2020, according to BloombergNEF.
Honda, which gets about 56 percent of its revenue from North America, has already begun aligning itself with powerful automakers overseas, last year striking a pact to use General Motors’s battery technology.
Honda’s electric strategy also include its traditional strength — motorcycles. Honda plans to unveil three new electric two-wheelers by 2024, as well as 10 new EV cars in China within five years.
The automaker’s first mass-produced EV, the Honda e, which was released last year, has a global sales target of 10,000 units annually.
Honda “will not hesitate” to form alliances if necessary, Mibe, who took the reins on April 1, said at his inaugural press conference that month. He added he thinks the Japanese government’s target is reasonable.
“We can’t postpone making an effort and then expect to reach the target at the last minute,” said Mibe, 59, although he did note that selling only zero-emissions vehicles by 2040 will “be an uphill struggle.”
Honda declined to make Mibe available for an interview.
Honda’s move is a short-term tactic to grab stakeholder attention as the focus around environmental, social and corporate governance picks up, said Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at Carnorama.
For Honda to position itself in the market it had to say something different from Toyota, he said. “Honda had no choice but to unveil a plan that is almost opposite to appeal to investors. It’s no use saying the same thing,” Miyao said.
Honda’s decision to end its long history with gasoline-powered engines is a marked shift.
Toyota has been helping out in various ways in the global fight against Covid-19 pandemic – from developing face masks to coming up with restart manuals for the auto industry. Now, the company in Japan has transformed one of its vehicles into an ambulance with modified features to safely transport Covid-19 patients from one location to another.
(Related read: Here’s how Hector SUV retrofitted as an ambulance aims to help fight Covid-19)
The Toyota Hiace-based vehicle features a special system called ‘airborne droplet circulation control’ which helps to expel possibly contaminated air from within the cabin. The cabin itself has been divided into two sections – the interior barrier makes for a front section for the driver and front passenger while the rearward compartment has the rear passenger seat area coupled with an exhaust fan which throws out air from the vehicle. This prevents the possibly contaminated air in the rear section from circulating to the forward compartment.
Hiace is a light commercial vehicle which is mostly used for goods transportation but Toyota has said it took suggestions from the medical sector before choosing the vehicle and converting it to help transport patients. “The transport vehicle for seriously ill Covid-19 patients provided today joins 11 transport vehicles for mildly infected patients already provided by the Toyota Group to such entities as medical facilities and local governments,” an official release on Thursday informed.
The modified Hiace, developed by Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd, has been donated to Showa University Hospital in Japan. A number of its other vehicles, some undergoing modifications, have been pressed into medical service across Japan.
As of date, the new coronavirus pandemic has already affected several countries around the world, with 3.25-million confirmed cases and death toll hitting the 230,000 mark. In Japan, there are 14,305 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 455 deaths. Tokyo, the nation’s capital, tallies the most number of confirmed cases and casualties, with Osaka and Kanagawa following behind.
As such, Toyota Motor Corporation has extended its hand in order to assist in this time of crisis. Earlier this week, the carmaker announced the production of medical face shields for Japan, with production capacity boosted up to 40,000 units per month.
Toyota has aided in the transport of COVID-19 cases, as well. It has provided 11 vehicles for mildly-ill patients since April 10, covering Tokyo, Chiba Prefecture, and Miyagi Prefecture.
The automaker’s latest addition to its coronavirus aid is this – a Toyota Hiace converted into a vehicle transport specifically modified to ferry seriously-ill COVID-19 patients. This is the first Toyota designed to transport COVID-19 patients in severe condition.
The Hiace-based transport is developed to be an “airborne droplet circulation control vehicle,” which features an interior compartment to separate the front cabin from the rear holding area.
The newly-developed vehicle’s design is simple: an exhaust fan was placed in the interior barrier to continuously expel air into the rear compartment, preventing contaminated air to breach the cabin.
Toyota’s new vehicle was donated to Showa University Hospital, Tokyo, joining the carmaker’s initial fleet of transport aid. The marque intends to continue developing these vehicles in response to requests from medical facilities and local governments – all part of Toyota’s Kokoro Hakobu Project, a collective Toyota effort that started since the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
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