Tony O'Kane | Jun 17, 2008

Toyota has announced that it will be debuting two completely new hybrid models at next January's Detroit Auto Show. One will be a new Lexus hybrid while the other will be a Toyota that'll complement both the Prius and the Camry Hybrid in ToMoCo's ever-expanding petrol-electric hybrid lineup.

Not much is known about the two new hybrids, although Masatami Takimoto, executive vice president in charge of research and development hinted that Toyota's car will be "totally new" and larger than the Prius. At this stage it's anyone's guess what the end product will be, but current theories range from it being a productionised version of the FT-HS sports car to a people mover to a commercial van. The Lexus, on the other hand, could very well be the IS hybrid that everyone's being waiting for. Currently, only the IS 250/350 and the SC 430 are the only two models in Lexus' stable that don't feature a hybrid variant.

Takimoto also said that the Prius would soldier on with the current nickel-metal hydride batteries until 2010, when the lighter, more powerful lithium-ion batteries would be phased in. The lithium-ion batteries may be short-lived though, as Toyota will be setting up a battery research laboratory this month to develop the next generation of automotive high-output, high-demand batteries. The Japanese automaker will also begin ramping up battery production to help meet the company's aim to sell over one million hybrid vehicles in the early 2010s.

It's not all about the hybrids though, as Toyota will be working towards increasing the efficiency of their more 'traditionally' powered models too. Key projects include the development of new 1.3 and 2.5-litre petrol motors with stop-start technology, a new super-efficient 6-speed manual gearbox and a reduction in CO2 emissions from Toyota factories of 35 per cent over 2001 levels.

Toyota really is doing its darndest to cement its position as the worlds most proactive developer of alternative propulsion technology, and we applaud that. However what would really get us excited would be a hybrid that appeals to us enthusiasts, something like, oh, say the FT-HS? C'mon Toyota, build it. We know you want to...

[Source: Automotive News (sub required)]

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