In January, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, Inc., unveiled the FT-CH dedicated hybrid concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
The FT-CH is a concept that would address Toyota’s stated strategy to offer a wider variety of conventional hybrid choices to its customers as it begins to introduce plug-in hybrids (PHVs) and battery electrics (BEVs) in model year 2012, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCHVs) in 2015 in global markets.
The CH stands for compact hybrid, as in compact class, and it’s a concept that can best be defined by comparing it with the mid-size class Prius.
The FT-CH captures the spirit and functionality of a car that thrives in the inner-city environment; sized right to be nimble, responsive and maneuverable.
The FT-CH was styled at Toyota’s European Design and Development (ED²) center in Nice, France.
Compared to Prius, it is 22” shorter in overall length, yet loses less than an inch in overall width.
In spite of its compact external dimensions, FT-CH was designed for maximum passenger comfort and interior roominess, with an imaginative sense of style.
ED² designers looked to capture the vivid, high-energy appeal of what has come to be called the 8-bit generation. Popularized in the early 1980s, 8-bit microprocessor technology dominated the budding home video game industry with systems such as Nintendo, Atari 7800 and Sega Master System.
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.
The direct reference to the 8-bit generation is meant to be fun and innovative, colorful and stylish, with strong appeal to young buyers. Lighter in weight and even more fuel efficient than Prius, the concept specifically targets a lower price
point than Prius, thus appealing to a younger, less-affluent buyer demographic.
The heart of hybrid technology is its battery. Since the early 1990s, during the early stages of first-generation Prius development, Toyota has been committed to in-house R&D of advanced nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Through three generations of Prius and a total of seven full-hybrid models, it has systematically reduced size, weight and cost while improving energy density, quality and reliability.