In line with its plans to launch an urban commuter battery-electric vehicle (BEV) by 2012, Toyota unveiled its FT-EV Concept during media days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. While the company did not place the same emphasis on the FT-EV reveal as it did on those of the 2010 Prius and 2010 Lexus HS250h dedicated luxury hybrid, announcement of the concept still highlighted the company's continued push of its advanced alternative-fuel vehicle development programs.
Based on the same platform as the iQ, which is currently available in Japan, the FT-EV Concept "imagines an urban dweller, driving up to 50 miles between home, work, and other forms of public transportation such as high-speed rail," according to Toyota. And by leveraging the iQ platform—a lightweight four-seater that boasts Prius-like efficiency—Toyota no doubt hopes a production version of the FT-EV can capitalize on the success of the iQ in the Japanese market.
For now, however, the FT-EV exists purely in concept form. And besides the lithium-ion battery pack mounted in the back seat of the display car, there was no definitive word from Toyota on the details of what a North American BEV version of the iQ would include in terms of its technological advances. The company, however, did take the opportunity to state that the concept vehicle represents a natural pairing of product strategies.
“Last summer’s $4-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly. It was a brief glimpse of our future,” said Irv Miller, Toyota Motor Sales Group Vice President, Environmental and Public Affairs. “We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size. This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity.”
Although BEVs and new smaller vehicles such as the iQ will be a key component of Toyota’s sustainable mobility strategy, the conventional gas-electric hybrid, such as the all-new third-generation Prius, is considered Toyota’s long-term core powertrain technology, according to the company.