Toyota To Sell FT-Bh Hybrid Subcompact, At 60 MPG-Plus, After 2015

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We like the extreme aerodynamic shape and exaggerated styling of the Toyota FT-Bh Concept unveiled at last week's Geneva Motor Show, though that's far from a common view.

Now, it appears the subcompact FT-Bh will become a future Toyota model--one targeted for extremely high fuel economy.

FT-Bh project manager Koji Makino told industry trade journal Automotive News Europe (subscription required) that he expects the car to be built after 2015, but before 2020.

If you're not a fan of the shape, keep in mind that concept cars rarely translate exactly into production models.

The 2012 Toyota Prius C, for instance, is a far cry from the Prius C concept shown at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Perhaps we're now seeing hints of what that car's successor, a 2017 Toyota Prius C, might look like?

Light and ultra-efficient

The FT-Bh Concept uses a 1.0-liter two-cylinder engine weighing just 130 pounds, paired with a future generation hybrid system. It may be offered in two models: a conventional hybrid vehicle, and one with a larger battery pack and Toyota's plug-in hybrid system for greater all-electric range.

Using a combination of high-strength steels, magnesium, and aluminum, its weight is just 1,730 pounds.

The teardrop shape produces a drag coefficient of just 0.235 using a front end that sends air over the roof and down the sides, and a high, truncated vertical rear end. 

That compares to an average of 0.29 for all cars on the market today, Toyota said, and to the 0.25 achieved by its (larger) 2012 Prius mid-size hybrid hatchback.

Every aspect of the FT-Bh has been developed for extreme efficiency, the company said, but at a cost level suitable for the subcompact segment of the market.

Toyota FT-Bh Concept

Toyota FT-Bh Concept

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100 mpg or more? Well...

The standard hybrid version of the FT-Bh concept is said to use just 2 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers, which translates to 118 miles per gallon, and target carbon-dioxide emissions of just 49 grams per kilometer.

The plug-in hybrid is even more fuel efficient, using less than 0.8 liter of gasoline and producing just 19 g/km of CO2. That translates to a ridiculously low 300 mpg!

As always, bear in mind that announced fuel consumption targets for concept cars are likely to change before production--and that U.S. gas-mileage ratings are always significantly lower than those produced on European or Japanese test cycles.

Nonetheless, it's entirely possible that a production version of this car would achieve 60 mpg, even 70 mpg, on the combined EPA test.

Bettering the first Insight

The last hybrid car sold in the U.S. with an engine as small as 1.0 liters was the first-generation (2000-2006) Honda Insight.

That car, just a two-seater, also combined light weight and a low drag coefficient with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine--paired with Honda's mild-hybrid system--to deliver a combined overall EPA rating of 53 mpg.

Fifteen years later, a four-seat, five-door Toyota subcompact, using a full hybrid system for all-electric running, plus advances in efficiency across every other facet of the car, should easily better those numbers.

We can't wait.


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Comments (4)
  1. Thanks very much for not headlining the out-outrageous and unlikely MPG numbers and providing some MPG context about we will likely see.

  2. Now that I have gotten past the looks, there is some very interesting technology. The weight of the vehicle has dropped from the 2500 lbs of the Prius C to 1700 lbs, which is a big step in the right direction. Drag coefficient has been reduced from 0.28 in the Prius C to 0.235 in the FT-Bh.

    They have also dropped the side mirrors which I suspect will reappear prior to the vehicle being put on the showroom floor.

  3. Aerodynamics play a pretty big role in fuel economy at highway speeds about 60mph with the lowest Cd values will mean 2 mpg better fuel economy. Average Cd values are about 0.3 and the best designs are about 0.22 for Tesla Model S. I say build a lightweight car with Aluminum or composite body panals to reduce weight with a strong central unit body design to protect the occupants in case of an accident with decent yet aerodynamic styling and a good price could make for a good seller. Aluminum could reduce weight considerably and allow for better fuel economy as well as new designs in tires with ultra low rolling resistance. Improvements in gasoline engines/transmissions designs can provide an additional 10% improvement in fuel economy.

  4. This really is my cup of tea. Having run a first gen Insight the spec is very close but in a five door configuration instead of the two seat coupe. Gets back to what I wrote elsewhere,lite wt,low roll,aerodynamics,and 2 or 3 cylinder engine plus hybrid tech is all thats needed.I want the plug in version!

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