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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota has joined the concept trend at Detroit, unveiling an inner-city baby hybrid with funky, “8-bit generation” styling and efficiency to beat a Prius.

The FT-CH (for Compact Hybrid) is 56cm shorter than the Prius but – with Toyota aiming to maximise passenger comfort and interior space – has an almost identical width.

Lighter in weight and more fuel efficient than Prius, Toyota Motor Sales US President, Jim Lentz, said the concept specifically targets a lower price point than Prius, appealing to a younger, less-affluent buyer demographic.

“It’s a package Toyota dealers and customers have been asking for,” he said.

Lentz used the unveiling to once and for all confirm that Toyota is developing a Prius family of hybrid vehicles, of which the FT-CH could become an early member of.

“The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family.

“Among others, the FT-CH is a concept that we are considering,” he said.

Toyota has kept quiet on specific details about the FT-CH’s hybrid drive system, fuel economy figures and performance data, but has emphasised its alliance with battery developer Panasonic, perhaps suggesting it could be packing some new technology, possibly lithium-ion.




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