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Geneva show: Toyota sketches FT-Bh city-car concept

Sketchy details: This is the first image of Toyota’s FT-Bh Geneva concept to be released ahead of its unveiling at the Geneva show next month.

Japanese giant Toyota targets low emissions without the price tag with FT-Bh concept

13 Feb 2012

TOYOTA’S latest concept will be an ultra-lightweight hybrid city car that eschews expensive construction materials and complex manufacturing processes in a bid to offer high levels of efficiency without the associated premium price.

The brand’s drawcard for next month’s Geneva motor show, called the FT-Bh, is said to showcase a “total vehicle” approach to reducing emissions within an “economically viable production framework” by using commonplace manufacturing processes.

Despite being described as a city car, Toyota’s teaser sketch suggests a low-slung, aerodynamic vehicle rather than the upright, boxy design usually associated with urban runabouts like the Volkswagen Up and Smart ForTwo.

This could mean the FT-Bh is either be an efficient little sister to the rear-drive 86 coupe or even a tiny runabout in the style of Audi’s electric Urban Concept and several similar vehicles unveiled at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.

Toyota’s recent spate of forward-thinking concepts will also share the company’s Geneva line-up, serving as a show of technological strength in the field of alternative fuels.

8 center imageToyota concepts from top: NS4, FCV-R and Digi.

The high-tech showcase is also a show of confidence from the battered Japanese giant, which lost its position as world’s largest vehicle manufacturer last year amid troubles caused by natural disasters on home turf and in Thailand, which were preceded by damage to its reputation for quality due to a series of safety recalls involving millions of cars worldwide.

The coupe-like NS4 sedan concept shown at Detroit earlier this year will also be at Geneva, previewing the next Camry’s styling and featuring a next-generation plug-in version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

Designed to “address customer demand for added value from hybrid motoring”, the NS4 promises a “more involving drive” than previous petrol-electric vehicles.

It will be joined by the hydrogen fuel cell-powered FCV-R sedan concept that debuted at last year’s Tokyo show with a claimed range of more than 700 kilometres and “impressive luggage space” due to efficient packaging.

The FCV-R points to Toyota’s first production fuel-cell car, which it expects will be ready for market by 2015.

Also at Geneva will be another Tokyo concept in the shape of the Digi – renamed from its Japanese title of Fun-Vii – which features exterior and interior panels that act as a display, meaning its surfaces can appear to be covered in various colours, patterns or even online content.

Toyota says personalising the Digi is “as simple as downloading an app” and that the car can communicate with other vehicles or infrastructure to create “an even more connected driving experience”.

European production car debuts at Geneva will include the aforementioned 86 sports coupe that will arrive Down Under mid-year and the Yaris hybrid, which is not planned for sale in Australia.

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