JOINING THE FLOOD of concepts revealed at the Detroit Auto Show this week, Toyota has unveiled its FT-CH dedicated hybrid concept. The unveiling of the FT-CH follows a pair of teaser images issued last month.
Styled at Toyota's European Design and Development centre in France, Toyota says the FT-CH was designed to capture the minds of what it refers to as the "8-bit Generation" - those that grew up with the 8-bit Nintendo and Sega gaming consoles.
"Popularized in the early 80s, 8-bit microprocessor technology dominated the budding home video game industry. Today, 8-bit is considered a specific retro-style that is embraced by such things as 8-bit genre music and 8-bit inspired art," Toyota's press release for the FT-CH reads.
The CH in its name stands for Compact Hybrid - and in the Toyota line-up, it is just that, measuring 560mm shorter than the mid-sized Toyota Prius but only 25mm narrower.
Toyota has not revealed specific weight, drivetrain and performance details for the FT-CH, but it promises that it is both lighter and more fuel efficient than its popular Prius hybrid.
Were it to go on sale, Toyota says the compact hybrid would target a lower price point than the Prius, aiming at a younger demographic.
Pointing to the Prius as a universal icon for hybrid technology, Toyota US President, Jim Lentz confirmed that Toyota's US arm is developing a Prius family "marketing strategy" that will take full advantage of the Prius brand equity.
"The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family," Lentz said. "Among others, the FT-CH is a concept that we are considering."
In November last year, Toyota confirmed it is developing hybrid systems that draw power from more powerful lithium batteries rather than the current nickel metal hydride cells.
Joining the brand's growing range of hybrid offerings, Toyota Australia recently unveiled the 2010 Hybrid Camry in a ceremony at the companyâ€™s Altona assembly plan, where the car will be built.