Toyota just made a splash in the high-performance auto world as it unveiled its brand new hybrid TS030 – the gasoline-electric super car they’ll be driving in 2012’s 24 hour Le Mans Race. The Toyota team is the first confirmed participant using a hybrid engine in this year’s race, and although they’ve got their eye on the prize, they’re also upping their race credentials by completing Le Mans with their THS-R system (which stands for Toyota Hybrid System – Racing). With 3.5 million Toyota Hybrids sold worldwide, the TS030 will put Toyota’s fuel-efficient technology to the test in one of the world’s most competitive automotive races.

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“Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain. Hybrid is a core technology of Toyota so it is important to demonstrate this in a motorsport arena and we want to prove it can bring a performance advantage, both in terms of lap time and fuel efficiency,” explained Yoshiaki Kinoshita, president of the race team based at Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Germany.

The TS030‘s fuel efficient hybrid drivetrain is great for endurance racing, since less fill ups mean less time wasted. The team has also improved the aerodynamics of the vehicle, increasing fuel efficiency even more. The TS030 is a successor to the TS010 and TS020 — TS stands for ToyotaSport — which participated in Le Mans in the 1990’s to great success. This year’s version of the car has a 90° VA normally aspirate engine, and it will use regenerative breaking to generate electricity that will assist in acceleration.

“Toyota has been working on hybrid systems for motorsport for several years, during which time we have made huge progress. Now we feel ready to bring our technology to the ultimate motorsport test: the Le Mans 24 Hours. Integrating a hybrid powertrain is, of course, a different challenge compared to a ‘standard’ powertrain,” noted Hisatake Murata, TS030’s Hybrid Project Leader. Le Mans is the oldest vehicle race in the world and has been run annually since 1923 near Le Mans, France. The vehicle track, called the Circuit de la Sarthe, is made up of existing roads combined with test track and runs for 8.4 miles in a circuit. In addition to making great time, the vehicle teams must make sure there isn’t damage to the vehicle along the way.

+ More about the TS030

Via Autoblog Green

Photos courtesy of Toyota