Karl Schlicht, Toyota managing officer and executive vice president of Toyota Motor Europe’s sales group, confirmed the plans for production at the Paris show.
“Is it going to be serious? Yes.”
When asked if Toyota will build a car like the C-HR, Slicht confirmed the Japanese brand’s intent to do exactly that.
“We will, yes.
“The C-HR is obviously exaggerated, it’s a concept car. Stretched, bigger wheels, whatever – but something like that we’re going to do. We’re serious about it, yes,” he said.
When asked about a timeframe for the production of such a car, which would likely compete with the likes of the Subaru XV, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Skoda Yeti and Holden Trax, Schlicht gave a decent hint at what to expect.
“Can’t tell you - I’d be shot,” he said with a chuckle, before letting on that the car would likely be seen in 2016.
“A few [years] is too many, and one is too few.”
When asked what the car would be based on – with the knowledge that there have been prototype versions using the Corolla hatch as their base – Schlicht indicated that it could be a new-generation platform to underpin the new model.
“All Toyota platforms are going through changes. There’s some sharing but it’s different because it’s an SUV,” he said.
The concept car shown at Paris is powered by a hybrid drivetrain, and Schlicht confirmed that while no information was currently available, the showcar was designed to be powered by the same hybrid system to be found in the new-generation Prius due in 2015.
“It’ll be based on next-generation Prius. As we upgrade to the next-generation, then this one will get the powertrain,” he said.
While no firm information on the new hybrid system has been made public, Schlicht ruled out the notion of it using a three-cylinder petrol engine.
He also ruled out the production version of the C-HR concept model being part of the Prius family.
“No,” he said when asked if it could wear the Prius badge. “We think it’s got different meaning. Different buyer demographic, different target.”
While the size of the new production model is not yet clear, Schlicht suggested the car would be small enough so as to no steal sales from the RAV4.
“Like all car companies we always say no,” he said of the new model cannibalising sales. “There might be a little bit but we think the RAV is targeted differently. It’s a larger car, significantly larger than this car, so it has a different purpose and a different kind of meaning today.”
The new model could be built in Europe, but Thailand is also believed to be an option to build the SUV.
“Can’t say yet, we’re hoping in Europe. But it’s not decided yet,” he said.
Toyota Australia manager of public relations, Mike Breen, told CarAdvice that an SUV smaller than RAV4 would be an excellent addition for the brand.
"We'd be very please to have a sub-RAV4 to compete in that very competitive segment," he said, before adding that he couldn't confirm timing for any such car for Australia.