Toyota is bringing a new subcompact hybrid to the Geneva Motor Show in March. Though the final design is still a secret, it’s less one big surprise than a lot of little ones.
The concept is named FT-Bh, for “Future Toyota, B-segment hybrid.” In other words, it’s a one-off subcompact that previews Priuses to come. Toyota claims it will have half the CO2 emissions of a traditional three-door subcompact while remaining as roomy as a larger five-door car — a feat achieved through a “total vehicle” approach, which squeezes as much efficiency as possible at the margins of automotive engineering.
By reducing the FT-Bh’s weight to less than 1,763 lbs, improving aerodynamics by 30 percent, downsizing the hybrid powertrain and doing a better job managing thermal energy and saving electricity, Toyota has previewed what can be done to make existing vehicle designs as efficient as possible. Most importantly, Toyota claims that those gains have come from refining existing technology, which means that a production vehicle could be built without costs shouldn’t increase dramatically.
“It was designed to achieve low emissions within an economically viable production framework,” the automaker said in a statement. “This means no use of exotic and expensive materials or complex procedures, only those already commonplace in the automotive industry.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if Toyota applied this new knowledge across their vehicle range, which now includes a Europe-only Yaris hybrid in addition to the expanded Prius lineup.