FT-CH concept foreshadows expansion of Prius brand

  • 19-Jan-2010 09:20 EST
The concept Toyota FT-CH debuted in Detroit.

A compact concept hybrid unveiled by Toyota at Detroit's 2010 North American International Auto Show foreshadows a vehicle for a new initiative.

"Toyota Motor Sales is developing a Prius family marketing strategy for North America that will take full advantage of the Prius brand equity," Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales USA President, said during the world debut of the FT-CH—the "CH" standing for compact hybrid.

Styled at Toyota's European Design and Development center in Nice, France, the FT-CH was "designed to capture the vivid, high-energy style of what has come to be called the 8-bit generation," Lentz said, referencing the 8-bit microprocessor technology that ushered in the home video game industry and now is considered a retro-style.

The FT-CH concept underscores the automaker's plan to widen the number of conventional hybrid vehicles it will offer as it adds plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric vehicles (expected in model year 2012) and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (expected in 2015).

Compared to the midsize Prius, the FT-CH's wheelbase is about 6 in (150 mm) shorter, and the FT-CH's overall length is some 22 in (560 mm) shorter than the Prius. The concept is designed "to target a lower price point than Prius, thus appealing to a younger, less-affluent buyer demographic," said Lentz.

In 2009, Toyota sold a combined 529,696 Toyota and Lexus gas-electric hybrid vehicles worldwide.

Said Lentz, "Early this decade, we will launch eight all-new hybrid models. These will not include next-generation versions of current hybrids. Instead they will be all-new dedicated hybrid vehicles or all-new hybrid versions of existing gas-engine models."

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