Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Is This the Next Prius?

FT-bh one of many Toyota green machines for Geneva.

by on Feb.28, 2012

The Toyota FC-bh concept is scheduled for a Geneva Motor Show debut next week.

Is this the next Toyota Prius?  That’s a conclusion that’s difficult to ignore after getting a first look at the advance image the Japanese maker has released of the FT-bh Concept it plans to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The Toyota FT-bh show car is one of a handful of hybrids and other green machines the maker plans to officially unveil at Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center next week.

News You Can Use!

But the FT-bh is the one that’s getting all the attention – and for obvious reasons.  While the maker is yet to offer any details the comparisons to the current, fourth-generation Prius sedan are obvious — even if the FT-bh is a size-class smaller.  There’s the four-door layout, of course, along with the clear influence of aerodynamics.  While the hybrid powertrain is a critical part of the package, Toyota engineers acknowledge that a significant factor in the fuel efficiency of the current Prius model is its wind-cheating design.

Toyota brings the FCV-R hydrogen car to Geneva.

With its wedge shape, pointed snout and steeply raked headlamps, this dedicated hybrid design would seem to be a perfect replacement for the current Prius – and one that could pump a little more passion into a brand that today has little to pitch beyond its 50 mpg fuel efficiency.

But if that is, indeed, the hidden purpose of the FT-bh, don’t expect to see it roll into showrooms anytime soon.  The existing hybrid is barely three years old and likely has a few more years to go before it gets a significant update.

Just as likely, the design exercise will be used to influence a variety of different hybrid products coming from Toyota over the next several years.  And it won’t be just the FT-bh design.

Along with the car’s emphasis on aerodynamics, Toyota also worked to further improve the efficiency of the concept’s Hybrid Synergy powertrain, improving the electrical system as well as thermal energy management.

Then there’s the emphasis on weight reduction.  The use of various exotic materials helped trim the heft of the FT-bh to just 1,763 pounds.  To put that in comparison, that’s a full 300 pounds less than the original Mazda Miata and barely half what a conventional sedan of its size might weigh.

Add it all up, Toyota hints the FT-bh is 30% more aerodynamic and roughly 50% more efficient than comparable products.

While the future of the FT-bh concept is uncertain, Geneva will see the official launch of the production-ready Toyota Yaris Hybrid, the first super-mini gas-electric model to make it into the European market.  Toyota claims it will have the lowest CO2 emissions of any vehicle in its segment.

Among the other hybrids and green machines Toyota promises will populate its Geneva show stand will be the FCV-R hydrogen concept vehicle.  Visually, it’s similar to the NS4 plug-in hybrid that Toyota revealed during January’s Detroit Auto Show – but here draws power from a hydrogen fuel cell.

The Japanese giant has promised to put a hydrogen-powered sedan on the streets by 2015 and the FCV-R likely provides a good indication of what’s to come.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Is This the Next Prius?”

  1. adb12 says:

    I confess, Toyota’s messaging seems a bit confused. They are launching the B-segment Prius c/Aqua in North America and Japan, but then they’re bringing a B-segment dedicated hybrid–no doubt very futuristic looking–to Geneva. Won’t that make the Prius c look old? I don’t think the ‘regular’ Prius comes into play here at all.

    PS: Your Toyota NS4 photo is mislabeled…

  2. adb12 says:

    As a followup, I recall the 1/X concept from Tokyo in 2007; perhaps the FT-Bh will be a spiritual successor to that lightweight small car.