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Detroit show: Toyota unveils Prius compact coupe

Short stuff: Toyota has unveiled a smaller, lighter coupe version of its hybrid Prius.

Toyota’s new FT-CH concept extends the Prius hybrid family

Toyota logo12 Jan 2010

By TERRY MARTIN

TOYOTA unveiled a dedicated hybrid coupe concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit overnight, demonstrating the Japanese manufacturer’s strategy to offer a “wider variety of conventional hybrid choices” as it introduces plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles from 2011.

While it also reaffirmed its commitment to launching hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in 2015 in global markets, Toyota presented the Prius-based FT-CH petrol-electric hybrid concept with no timetable for production but insisted it was a variant that responded to dealer and customer demands.

It also confirmed that it was developing a Prius family “marketing strategy” for North America that will “take full advantage of the Prius brand equity”.

8 center image Toyota Motor Sales USA president Jim Lentz said the coupe was a package Toyota dealers and customers had been asking for.

“The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family. Among others, the FT-CH is a concept that we are considering,” he said.

A product of Toyota’s European design and development centre in France, the FT-CH (the ‘CH’ referring to compact hybrid) is smaller than the Prius but, according to the manufacturer, was designed for “maximum passenger comfort and interior roominess”.

Measuring 3886mm long and 1752mm wide, the concept is shorter but less than an inch narrower than the Prius, hence the useful interior space.

It is lighter and, as a result, claimed to be more fuel efficient than the Prius, although no official figures have been provided.

The exterior design is meant to appeal to the so-called ‘eight-bit generation’ – those who grew up playing 1980s home video games such as Nintendo. It is therefore meant to be “fun and innovative, colourful and styling, with a strong appeal to young buyers”.

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