Toyota FT-CH Concept at the Detroit Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrid concept car, the FT-CH, is on display at the Detroit Auto Show. By giving the car a retro feel, Toyota is hoping to appeal to the 8-bit generation. This group consists of those who grew up playing '80s video game systems such as Nintendo. The FT-CH is styled to reflect the target audience's style and taste.

The interior's components are simple. The odometer and speedometer have been compressed in a small digital display that sits atop the steering wheel column. Jim Lentz, COO, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. said that the concepts of its interior design including the electronics and the color palette are fun and stylish.

Lentz said the company has yet to come up with a production timetable for the FT-CH. Toyota's European design and development center in Nice, France, styled the FT-CH.

Measuring 153 inches long and 69 inches wide, the car has small proportions for it to be maneuverable and responsive. Toyota is displaying the car to see whether there is a potential for this type of vehicle to be sold.

Lentz admitted that no engineer has been assigned to the car and that talks of production are still not happening. The vehicle has not been tested with customers and Toyota doesn´t have an engine size in mind for the concept car that could become part of what Toyota has described as the Prius family.

As hybrid technology revolves around the battery, Toyota has been focusing on creating batteries that could reliably provide the needed energy while being cost-effective. During the early phases of development of the first-generation Prius hybrid in the 90s, Toyota has been researching and developing advanced nickel-metal hydride batteries.

Since then, we’ve seen three generations of Prius and seven full-hybrid models. The carmaker has managed to improve the battery’s energy density, reliability and quality while reducing its weight, size and cost. Toyota’s success in advancing hybrid technology is partly attributed to the carmaker’s joint venture with Panasonic, Panasonic EV Energy (PEVE).

To demonstrate its success, PEVE will have three individual, completely operational production facilities later this year, all of which have a combined annual production capacity of over one million units.

To show its capacity to fulfill its promise of electrification, the Japanese carmaker recently launched its worldwide demonstration program that involves around 600 Prius plug-in hybrid EVs.

Starting early this year, Toyota will start to ship around 150 PHVs to the United States, where these hybrid vehicles will be placed in regional groupings with chosen partners for technical demos as well as for market and consumer assessments.

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