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Old 08-31-2011, 12:34 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Interview with Tetsuya Tada - Chief Engineer of the FT-86

*fixed link*
http://goo.gl/a7zEg


The Truth About The FT-86. Straight From The Mouth Of The Chief Engineer


By Bertel Schmitt on August 30, 2011



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“When we started working on the FT-86 we had no idea where we would end up,” said Tetsuya Tada, whom I met last Sunday to talk about his work.

Quote:
“Was it going to be a ridiculously expensive car? Or one anyone can buy? All we knew it was going to be a sports car. The rest was a blank sheet.”
The FT-86 that eventually took shape on this blank sheet will be in showrooms down the street from you, all over the world, next year.

The FT-86 ”may just be the car to herald Toyota’s ‘second renaissance,” if some enthusiast blogs are right.

At the very least, this car will change how we think and dream of a sport scar: We won’t. This is not a dream car. For most of us, it will be an impulse buy.

Tetsuya Tada tells its story.

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Tetsuya Tada is the Chief Engineer of the FT-86, Toyota’s new sports car that had powered the rumor mills for many years. Some enthusiast blogs enthusiastically painted Tada as the “Jason Bourne of Toyota Sports car development.” If that is the case, then he is the friendliest and most unassuming Jason Bourne I ever heard of. He is the man I’d expect to see carrying two bags when I take out my carefully sorted garbage after midnight in a quiet Japanese neighborhood. As a Toyota Chief Engineer however, Tada carries more responsibility and more power than the Ludlum hero. Scott Bellware once described the role of a Chief Engineer at Toyota like this:

Quote:
“He is the person responsible for the design, development, and sale of the product. He is the organizational pinnacle and the hub through which authority and ability flow. The CE isn’t just an architect or technical lead or just a customer proxy or just a project manager or just process master. He’s all of these things and more. He doesn’t just pass along customer requirements for the product, he defines them. He doesn’t just implement the business’s design for the product, he creates it. He’s large and in-charge, and he’s uniquely and deeply qualified to be so.

Because all of these abilities and authorities are invested in one extremely capable, senior, trusted product development person, the coordination of the various perspectives, values, and vision of a product and its execution don’t suffer design-by-committee issues. And because the CE has these many responsibilities and abilities, he’s a rare person."
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Tada indeed is a rare person. Dressed in khaki pants and a striped shirt, the affable attitude accentuated by rimless glasses, he hides all that power well.

We met last Sunday at Toyota’s Megaweb down by the waterfront. Megaweb is part theme park, part test drive venue. We met there, because an FT-86 prototype is on display. We didn’t go there to drive it. First off, Megaweb is not a test track. It was barely appropriate to give the iQ a slow spin. Second, most of the FT-86 is still a secret. Doors and hatches of the car on display are locked tight. So were the lips of its Chief Engineer.

“You can ask anything except specs and price,” Tada-san announced after we found a quiet space away from the din of the Megaweb.

“In that case, let’s have lunch,” was my answer.

In lieu of talking about cars, we found out that Tada lived where I lived during his time in Germany: In Düsseldorf Oberkassel, me because of its watering holes, him because of the Japanese school. Japan’s Jason Bourne is a dad who rather did a 100km round trip commute to Toyota Cologne each day than put his children’s education at risk. Speaking of lunch, we established that we both had regular lunch at the Kikaku, Düsseldorf’s best sushi place. That created a bit of bonding, and Tada started talking about the car.

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When Tada stared at a white page, it was 2007. He didn’t know what to think:
Quote:
“We did know from the very beginning that it was going to be a sports car. I said, well, if it’s going to be a sports car, it has to go fast. We were looking at the Nissan GT-R, the Mitsubishi Evolution, those cars were in our heads at the original stage.

Then we thought: Should we make a car that is faster than the GT-R?

You know what we did then? We did a lot of research. We talked to owners, fanatics, real buyers of sports cars around the world. They told us: Speed isn’t everything. If it’s just an incredibly fast car, they don’t really want it. What they want is a sports car that is small, compact, light, and that handles just the way they want it to handle.”
The customers wanted more: They wanted a sports car for less. A Veyron makes for good copy and dreams. But it also causes can’t-have-it frustrations. Tada listened intently to his future customers:

Quote:
"The super-super-super fast cars are only for the super-rich. Even most super-rich don’t want to buy them. The people I talked to were looking for something like the 80s kind of a sports car, echoes of an AE86. They wanted a stripped-down, basic sports car with the price more like that of a piece of sports equipment, not the price of a house. Those people wanted something that doesn’t exist.”
Tada and his team set out to design the impossible. A year later, they had the design, the specs, and the price point. Tada presented it to the board of Toyota. The concept was approved. The project had an important advocate on the board: Akio Toyoda. At the time, the CEO was Katsuaki Watanabe. The time was 2008, and all over the world, the skies were falling.

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Tada puts it in his trademark humble words when he describes the boardroom discussions:

Quote:
“Sometimes, it is a little hard to explain why this kind of a vehicle is needed for the Toyota brand. If you just take the commercial point of view – it won’t make a lot of money, and of course, there are some people who object to that. But as they say, money isn’t everything – especially when it comes to branding.”
At the height of carmageddon, Tada received the go-ahead for what we would call an “enthusiast car.” The Japanese have a more befitting description. It’s a “nekkyousha car” a car for maniacs – in a good way. It helped that Toyota’s resident auto otaku, Akio Toyoda, was behind the concept, and it helped even more that he became President of Toyota a year later.

Asked what changed for the FT-86 when Toyoda took the helm of Toyota, Tada says: ”He became one of our test drivers.”

Asked what it means when you work in the shadow, but also in full view of the President of the world’s largest carmaker, Tada changes the subject. His true boss is the customer, and the customer didn’t want another rice racer:

Quote:
“It is possible to soup-up sedans or hatchbacks to make them sporty. But what these people are after is a body that is already very low to the ground, very sleek, a body that they can then work on – if they want.”
As for low to the ground, Tada promises a “production car with the world’s lowest center of gravity.” The FT-86 will be a tinkerer’s car. The car is named “FT-86” for a reason. Toyota wants to make a mental connection to the AE86, the archetypical cult-craze car from the Star Wars era. Nearly 20 years later, the hachiroku (Japanese for 86) still commands a following for which some modern day Messiahs would kill. Toyota wants to build a new millennium hachiroku so bad, they even kept the number. Says Tada:

Quote:
“The 86 was such a popular maniac car not because of what the maker did, but what the users did with it. It created its own aftermarket and a tuner industry. The idea of the FT-86 is basically the same. We want to create a car that is easy for people to tune and to play with.”
Tada indeed is a rare person. The Teutonic engineers I grew up with used go into convulsions or threw screaming fits when people modified “their cars” – except maybe using factory-approved and overpriced accessories.

Tada smiles when you ask him whether is hurts his pride as an engineer when the people of SEMA gang-rape “his car.”

“Yes.”

A short, but honest answer. Isn’t it painful to spend years designing the perfect car, and to make it so perfect in a sense that some guys in a garage can modify it beyond recognition without even breaking a sweat or lighting a welder?

“Yes.”

The Chief Engineer’s sensitivities are touched by the most benign act of modding – the choice of tires:

Quote:
“We usually come up with a designated tire, a tire that is optimal for the car. We arrive at this decision after long tests. That some guys go and decide their own tire steals a little something from the enjoyment of the engineer – but that’s the concept of this vehicle. It is not made for the enjoyment of the engineer – it is made for the enjoyment of the owner.”
That owner may not need a lot of money, but he will need to know how to drive. He will need to use his own brain and the seat of his own pants. Tada had jotted down the principle in his self-derived design guide, and he sticks with it:

Quote:
“From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today. Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road.”
The FT-86 has about half of the computing power that is dragged around in a modern day car. The preferred shifter is a stick. An automatic is optional. The slushbox is nothing fancy. “No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard. Computers want to keep you on the straight and narrow, but some FT-86 owners want that car to go sideways. If you need nannies, go down to the children’s hospital.


Rest of article at http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/201...hief-engineer/

Last edited by Spaceywilly; 08-31-2011 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:46 AM   #2
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No DSG. Confirmed.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:50 AM   #3
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Very Pleased with:

“The super-super-super fast cars are only for the super-rich. Even most super-rich don’t want to buy them. The people I talked to were looking for something like the 80s kind of a sports car, echoes of an AE86. They wanted a stripped-down, basic sports car with the price more like that of a piece of sports equipment, not the price of a house. Those people wanted something that doesn’t exist.”

As for low to the ground, Tada promises a “production car with the world’s lowest center of gravity.”

“No,no, no – it is a completely new engine. The engine is still a boxer. The technology, even the engine block are completely new. Everything is new. The only thing that remained are the mounting points.”

“From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today. Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road.”

The FT-86 has about half of the computing power that is dragged around in a modern day car. The preferred shifter is a stick. An automatic is optional. The slushbox is nothing fancy. “No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard. Computers want to keep you on the straight and narrow, but some FT-86 owners want that car to go sideways. If you need nannies, go down to the children’s hospital.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:08 AM   #4
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My man parts are tingling again.
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The 'FT' stands for 'forgot topic'.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceywilly View Post
“The super-super-super fast cars are only for the super-rich. Even most super-rich don’t want to buy them. The people I talked to were looking for something like the 80s kind of a sports car, echoes of an AE86. They wanted a stripped-down, basic sports car with the price more like that of a piece of sports equipment, not the price of a house. Those people wanted something that doesn’t exist.”

“The 86 was such a popular maniac car not because of what the maker did, but what the users did with it. It created its own aftermarket and a tuner industry. The idea of the FT-86 is basically the same. We want to create a car that is easy for people to tune and to play with.”

“We usually come up with a designated tire, a tire that is optimal for the car. We arrive at this decision after long tests. That some guys go and decide their own tire steals a little something from the enjoyment of the engineer – but that’s the concept of this vehicle. It is not made for the enjoyment of the engineer – it is made for the enjoyment of the owner.”

“From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today. Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road.”

The FT-86 has about half of the computing power that is dragged around in a modern day car. The preferred shifter is a stick. An automatic is optional. The slushbox is nothing fancy. “No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard. Computers want to keep you on the straight and narrow, but some FT-86 owners want that car to go sideways. If you need nannies, go down to the children’s hospital.

“The first year was actually quite tough. The character and processes of the two companies are quite different. In the beginning, we sat down and decided who does what. That didn’t work out very well, because of the cultural differences between the companies. When people started to become more interested in the car itself, people from both sides ended up becoming one team. In the end, it wasn’t so much Toyota doing this and Subaru doing that, but people working together with one goal.”

“No,no, no – it is a completely new engine. The engine is still a boxer. The technology, even the engine block are completely new. Everything is new. The only thing that remained are the mounting points.”
Very nice. Some good stuff here.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:19 AM   #6
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I enjoy on MkI & MkII body layout. MkII has 3dr-hatch

Anyways, nice article!! Seriously, want to meet w Tada-san and have some drink and get to know him.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:20 AM   #7
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Some interesting points in the interview and my take on it:

“It is possible to soup-up sedans or hatchbacks to make them sporty. But what these people are after is a body that is already very low to the ground, very sleek, a body that they can then work on – if they want.”

==> means no hatchback version. Only in coupe form....... Edit: After re-reading the text, I do not think Tada-san was referring not having a hatchback form for FT-86. I think it was referring to the existing sedan or hatckback forms of cars. Since this is a new design, they can do whatever they want. (Hatchback hope is back on!! Yeah!)

“No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard.

==> means no paddle shifter or the sort?

“No,no, no – it is a completely new engine. The engine is still a boxer. The technology, even the engine block are completely new. Everything is new. The only thing that remained are the mounting points.”

==> if this new engine is the FB20 based, does that mean the new FB has the same mounting points of the old EJ series. I think this is a possibility.

“Suspension?” “McPherson, double wishbone.” And a smile.


==> or like the multi-link suspension at the rear?

And lastly Mr. Tada-san indicates that the production version should be closer to the Mk I rather than Mk II. Interesting...

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Old 08-31-2011, 01:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
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==> means no paddle shifter or the sort?


==> if this new engine is the FB20 based, does that mean the new FB has the same mounting points of the old EJ series. I think this is a possibility.
Just because it's not a DSG automatic doesn't mean paddle shifters can't be mounted. (I.E. No, that didn't mean there won't be paddle shifters).

Judging by the tone and words, it will share little if anything with the FB20/25 design. Engine mounting points have been speculated multiple times as being similar to both EJ/FB mounting points.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Exage View Post
Just because it's not a DSG automatic doesn't mean paddle shifters can't be mounted. (I.E. No, that didn't mean there won't be paddle shifters).

Judging by the tone and words, it will share little if anything with the FB20/25 design. Engine mounting points have been speculated multiple times as being similar to both EJ/FB mounting points.
Actually, it was the second part of the paragraph that leads me to the speculation:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tada San
“No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard.


As to the engine side, I think we are saying the same thing: the engine block is new design, except the location of mounting points are inherited from older engine.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:36 AM   #10
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Mmm... I like. I very like.

AND! To top it off. This information looks more legit than most of the links we've been getting. Thanks for taking parts of the article and including it in the forum.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Want.FR-S View Post
Some interesting points in the interview and my take on it:

“It is possible to soup-up sedans or hatchbacks to make them sporty. But what these people are after is a body that is already very low to the ground, very sleek, a body that they can then work on – if they want.”

==> means no hatchback version. Only in coupe form.......
Depends on what the definition of 'hatchback' is. Supra and 240SX guys call it a hatch, but it is still very sleek.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Want.FR-S View Post

“No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard.

==> means no paddle shifter or the sort?
Just no fancy twin-clutch, I think. Regular automatic, with paddles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Want.FR-S View Post
“No,no, no – it is a completely new engine. The engine is still a boxer. The technology, even the engine block are completely new. Everything is new. The only thing that remained are the mounting points.”

==> if this new engine is the FB20 based, does that mean the new FB has the same mounting points of the old EJ series. I think this is a possibility.
Another link to a FHI release states that the engine in exclusive to the sports car. I would feel that means that, thanks to Yamaha, the motor is as close to the regular FB20 as the 2ZZGE is to the 1ZZFE.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Want.FR-S View Post
“Suspension?” “McPherson, double wishbone.” And a smile.

==> or like the multi-link suspension at the rear?
For some reason a multi-link rear suspension that has a single upper wishbone always gets referred to as 'double wishbone' even if it has 3 lower links...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Want.FR-S View Post
And lastly Mr. Tada-san indicates that the production version should be closer to the Mk I rather than Mk II. Interesting...
I can't figure out if it was about the looks or the dimensions or what...
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Want.FR-S View Post
Actually, it was the second part of the paragraph that leads me to the speculation:

"Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard."
Valid point! It really depends on the context in which he's talking about. I was reading into it as more as it won't have a sport button for higher/aggressive shift points or converter clutch lock-up.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:52 AM   #13
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And to cross reference from this post in this thread:

http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showp...&postcount=170
http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showt...?t=1684&page=5

Major Specifications for Subaru BRZ
Body size (Overall: Length x Width x Height): 4,200 x 1,770 x 1,270 mm
Wheelbase: 2,570 mm
Engine type: 2.0-liter direct injection naturally-aspirated
four cylinder Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine

Compared with Mk I shown above:
Body size (Overall: Length x Width x Height): 4,160 x 1,760 x 1,260 mm
Wheelbase: 2,570 mm

The Subaru BRZ is indeed closer to Mk I in terms of body size.

PS. I just find that it was strange that in MK I the body sizes are all ended with 60.
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:53 AM   #14
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so what sort of size of car can we expect the car to kinda size like?
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