FT-CH dedicated hybrid ‘concept’ revealed in Detroit today (11 January) has the automaker’s first generation lithium-ion drive battery. When fully charged, it has a maximum electric-only range of about 13 miles (21km) and can reach over 60mph (100km/h) in electric-only mode.
“This ability to utilise all-electric power for short trips or hybrid power for longer drives alleviates the issue of limited cruising range encountered with pure-electric vehicles,” Toyota said.
The FT-CH is part of a strategy announced earlier to offer a wider variety of conventional hybrid models plus plug-in hybrids (PHVs) and battery electrics (BEVs) from model year 2012 and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCHVs) from 2015 – worldwide.
“Within the next 10 to 20 years, we will not only reach peak oil we will enter a period where demand for all liquid fuels will exceed supply,” said Toyota motor sales president Jim Lentz. “A century after the invention of the automobile, we must re-invent it with powertrains that significantly reduce or eliminate the use of conventional petroleum fuels. One of many alternatives is through what is commonly called the electrification of the automobile. By far, the single most successful example of this has been the [petrol]-electric hybrid.”
The CH stands for compact hybrid – in US terms this is a compact compared with the mid-size Prius. The FT-CH is sized for the city, the automaker said.
“It’s a package Toyota dealers and customers have been asking for,” added Lentz.
The new hybrid was styled at Toyota’s European Design and Development (ED2) center in Nice, France and is 22 inches shorter and an inch narrower than the Prius.
Lighter and more fuel efficient, it will cost less and appeal to younger, less-affluent buyers, Toyota said.
Building on earlier comments by Japan-based executives, Lentz said TMS was developing a Prius family “marketing strategy” for North America that would take full advantage of the reputation built by the Prius brand.
“The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family,” said Lentz. “Among others, the FT-CH is a concept that we are considering.”
In the early 2010s, Toyota plans to sell 1m hybrids per year globally, a majority of those in North America. It will launch eight new hybrids over the next few years. These will not include next generation versions of current hybrids; instead, they will be new dedicated hybrid vehicles, or new hybrid versions of existing petrol engine models, the automaker promised. It recently launched a hybrid-only Lexus model in the US, based on the European designed Avensis.
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