A Toyota FT-EV concept will be on display at the opening Media Day of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), confirming the company’s plans to launch a battery-electric urban commuter vehicle by 2012. At the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota displayed a Camry Hybrid powered by compressed natural gas, indicating their intent to make alternative-fuel vehicles bigger.
Irv Miller, TMS Group Vice President, Environmental and Public Affairs, said, “Now, more than ever, we need to think about our future even though we’re focused on the big issues right now.” Providing true sustainable mobility with vehicles that reduce fuel consumption, carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions is our industry’s duty and commitment to the planet.
FT-EV’s platform is the same as the iQ, a revolutionary urban commuter. With its lightweight design and seating for four passengers, the iQ already has a huge following in Japan. It’s also very fuel efficient, sporty, refined and fun to drive. The concept of Toyota’s FT-EV imagines an urban dweller driving 50 miles to work, home, and public transportation. Even though the FT-EV is just a concept for now, it’s a perfect match with our product strategies. “Last summer’s gasoline at four dollars a gallon was no anomaly, it was a glimpse of our future,” Miller said. By making vehicles that run on alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, and by coming up with new concepts, like the iQ, we’re going to be able to combat peak oil. Our industry should focus its creativity on this kind of car, electrified or not.” EVs and smaller cars like the iQ will be part of Toyota’s sustainable mobility strategy, but conventional gas-electric hybrids, like the new Prius, are considered Toyota’s core powertrain for the future. Around the beginning of the 2010s, Toyota plans to sell 1 million gas-electric hybrids per year. In order to achieve this, Toyota plans to introduce ten new hybrid models in different global markets by the early 2010s. Two of the first examples of this are the new Toyota Prius and Lexus HS250h, which both premiered in Detroit last week. Toyota also announced last year that it would offer a large number of plug-in hybrids (PHVs) to global lease fleet customers in 2010. That launch date has been accelerated.
During the first half of 2009, Toyota will begin delivering 500 Prius PHVs with lithium-ion batteries worldwide. Of these, 150 will be leased to U.S. lease fleet customers. A joint-venture production facility owned by Toyota and Panasonic EV Energy Company, LTD, which is based at the Toyota PEVE (Panasonic EV Energy Company, LTD) battery plant, will build the first-generation lithium-ion batteries for these PHVs on an assembly line. In the new Prius, a lithium-ion battery pack is available with plug-in capability, or a nickel-metal hydride battery is available for conventional gas-electric vehicles. Market and engineering analysis will be conducted on 500 PHVs arriving worldwide in late 2009. The lease-fleet customers will provide feedback on how future customers might react to the plug-in process, while monitoring the battery’s performance and durability. As a result of these emerging technologies, future customers are expected to have high expectations. The Prius PHV fleet program is an important first step to determine how and when plug-in hybrids can be introduced to the global market.
Today, we are more than just manufacturers and suppliers of cars and trucks. We are looking for solutions to mobility challenges today and preparing for more advanced challenges in the foreseeable future.”
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