Ugly, But Still InterestingI don't know about you, but personally, if I was in charge at Toyota, I would fire whoever designed the exterior of that vehicle. It does absolutely nothing for me on the aesthetic level. I understand that concept cars often look weird and out-there and like something out of the Jetsons, but it's got to be possible to do that better than this... Anyway. What interests me most about the Toyota FT-Bh concept, which was just unveiled in Geneva, is what's under the hood. The default model is a hybrid, with a plug-in hybrid variant also available (so far, so normal). But Toyota is also working on a compressed natural gas (CNG) model that retains the hybrid half of the drivetrain, which is something new for them.
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, CNG has many benefits over gasoline (though it is far from entirely clean), and if oil prices and natural gas prices keep going in opposite directions, we'll probably be seeing more CNG vehicles come to market in the next few years.
The Toyota FT-Bh might not make it under that form, but its drivetrain could very well be exported to other models, or a different design could come to market with the CNG option intact. It would be the first CNG-electric hybrid that I'm aware of.
Here is how Toyota describes what makes this concept car different:
Five Elements of Ultra-Low Fuel Consumption
- Reduced mass
The curb weight3 of the FT-Bh is a mere 786 kg. Assuming a mass-produced fuel-efficient vehicle, the FT-Bh body structure makes greater use of high-tensile-strength steel and does not require expensive materials such as carbon fiber for weight reduction. In addition, a new high-expansion foam material is used inside the vehicle to improve interior thermal management and reduce the weight of interior components. This allows other components, including the body frame, chassis and powertrain, to be made lighter.
- Reduced road and air resistance
The FT-Bh seats four adults comfortably in a body that is less than four meters long and that achieves an outstanding drag coefficient of just 0.235. The newly developed Michelin 145/55R18 tires feature a large diameter for effective road resistance reduction, and a narrow width for substantial air resistance and weight reduction.
- Highly efficient powertrain
For a high level of fuel efficiency, TMC developed a new, long stroke 1.0-liter, two-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline engine that achieves high environmental performance with CO2 emissions of only 49 g/km under the NEDC, along with improved hybrid system efficiency.
- Effective thermal energy management
Through the application of high-expansion foam material to interior and weight reduction in the materials used for the seating and interior, the thermal capacity4 necessary for controlling cabin temperature is reduced. In addition, comprehensive thermal management measures have been implemented, such as "air-zoning" that adjusts temperature only in necessary areas depending on the number of passengers. Due to small amount of heat generated by high-efficiency engines, heat from both the engine and exhaust is used for heating the interior.
- Reduced power consumption
Power consumption in the FT-Bh has been cut to half that of standard B-segment cars. The adoption of LEDs in the head, tail and room lights, and reduction of standby power requirements necessary for electrical components such as power windows has substantially reduced overall power consumption.