The Toyota FT-EV Battery Electric Vehicle, image courtesy of Toyota
Seems shrinking gas prices haven't deterred Toyota's need for hybrid developin' speed. Starting with the third generation Prius and the new Lexus hybrid, the HS250h, which are being unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the car company has announced that it will launch as many as 10 new hybrids by the early 2010's.
Some of highlights from the incoming hybrid lineup? News that the Plug-in Prius will launch by the end of this year, and confirmation that Toyota will release a Battery Electric Vehicle, the FT-EV urban commuter vehicle, by 2012.
Plug-in Prius Comes Early
The much-anticipated Plug-in Prius, which was originally slated for launch in 2010, will now be arriving a year early. The lithium ion battery-powered Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle will hit US shores by the end of 2009, though only 150 will be placed with U.S. lease fleet customers.
The FT-EV Battery Electric Vehicle Only Years Away
Even more intriguing is the prospect of Toyota's BEV, the FT-EV, which is evidently only 3 years away from a US arrival.
According to Toyota,
"The FT-EV concept shares its platform with the revolutionary-new iQ urban commuter vehicle. Already a huge hit in Japan, the iQ is lightweight and seats four passengers in comfort and security, while delivering exceptional mileage, sporty performance, unique refinements and a fun, youthful image.
Toyota’s FT-EV concept imagines an urban dweller, driving up to 50 miles between home, work and other forms of public transportation, such as high-speed rail. Although, for now, the FT-EV remains a pure concept, it represents a natural pairing of product strategies."
Sounds great, but will American consumers take to the compact electric car as readily as the Japanese have?
A Hybrid Future
Toyota just revealed a concept for a compressed natural gas powered Camry Hybrid at the LA Auto Show in 2008. We'll have to keep our ears peeled for further details on both it and the promising FT-EV.
So that makes five out of ten—what other kind of hybrid-ery does Toyota have in store for the next few years? Time will tell, but the company is forecasting selling at least a million gas-electric hybrids by the early 2010s, so we can bet there'll be a decent consumer-friendly variety.