There's A Major Problem With That Glorious Toyota Concept Car

Toyota FT-1 concept detroit auto show 2014 design teamToyotaThe Toyota design team with FT-1 concept at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

Toyota stole a lot of the spotlight at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show this week with the surprise reveal of the FT-1, an over-the-top concept sports car it says represents a desire to make cars that “connect more deeply with customers.”

In other words, cars that are less boring.

But here’s the problem: We don’t believe Toyota really wants to make cars like the FT-1.

The Japanese automaker has been among the world’s best for years by producing good, affordable, reliable vehicles. With few exceptions, vehicles with mass-market appeal are a bit boring.

At Toyota’s auto show display, the FT1 is surrounded by about 30 cars you can actually buy, and none of them are very interesting. There’s no reason to believe Toyota would take a risk with cars that look like the FT-1, when it can keep raking in the cash by improving stalwart offerings like the Camry, Corolla, and Highlander.

Here’s the Toyota stand at the Detroit show:

Concept cars that don’t amount to anything are a regular feature at auto shows. It’s a chance for designers to have some fun, free of the safety regulations that apply to cars people can actually buy. (That’s why tiny side view mirrors appear on most concepts — they look sleek, but would be totally useless on the road.)

And some version of the FT-1 could make it into production, as a successor to the much-loved Toyota Supra.

But the automaker is probably over-promising when it says the concept “sets the pace for future design.”

So cross your fingers for a new Supra, but don’t expect to see a crazier Camry anytime soon.

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