2010 Detroit Auto Show: Toyota concept hints at Prius coupe image

Toyota’s FT-CH concept, unveiled on Monday, was styled at Toyota’s European design centre in Nice and could be the first of an expected eight new hybrids Toyota will add to its line-up over the next few years as the company expands its “Prius family” of hybrids, Toyota’s US sales chief Jim Lentz said.

“The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family,” Lentz said in a news conference. “Among others, the FT-CH is a concept that we are considering.”

The compact and sporty FT-CH is 56cm (22 inches) shorter than the current Prius and is aimed at younger buyers, so could be a Prius-type coupe as Toyota strives to maintain its sales lead in advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles in the face of new models from Nissan and GM, both of whom plan to begin sales this year of plug-in cars powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Lentz said that sales of a plug-in Prius hybrid, with a 13-mile battery-only range and a new small electric car using only battery power, will begin with model year 2012. The company also aims to start sales of a separate electric model powered by hydrogen fuel cells in 2015, he said.