Not every compact Toyota hybrid model need wear the Prius badge. In keeping with its previous pledges to offer a full range of hybrid models in Europe by 2020, Toyota unveiled the Yaris HSD Concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, and promised to push a version into production by the end of 2012.
The showcar is apparently based off the latest iteration of the Yaris/Vitz B-segment subcompact, which launched in Japan late last year, and is slated to arrive in other global markets within the next twelve months. For the most part, the concept bears a close resemblance to the stock hatchback, but designers have instilled some additional style by means of a few cosmetic touches. Up front, a dramatic fascia incorporates a massive lower grille section, teardrop-shaped side air intakes with fog lamps, and canted blue-tinted LED headlamps. That swagger is carried throughout the Yaris' exterior thanks to flared fenders, aggressive character lines, large eight-spoke aluminum wheels, and a tall rear bumper with an integrated diffuser.
Interestingly, Toyota is avoiding providing anything but a superficial look at the gas-electric Yaris. Although the model has been confirmed for production, the automaker has refrained from providing any firm specifications on the HSD concept's powertrain. Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, which pairs a gasoline engine with an electric motor via an electrically variable transmission, is essentially a given, but we don't know what engine Toyota plans on stuffing underhood, but the 1.8-liter I-4 used in the Prius, Prius V and Prius+, Lexus CT200h, and the European Auris HSD may prove to be overkill. Look for a smaller four-cylinder offering (i.e. 1.3-1.5 liters or so) or Toyota's miniscule 1.0-liter three-cylinder to eventually work its way underhood.
Just how production ready this show car truly is remains to be seen (we're betting the LED headlamps and camera-based side-view mirrors are ditched before reaching consumers), but Toyota is apparently wasting no time in ushering it into production. The company has confirmed the Yaris HSD will be built at its plant in Valenciennes, France, and arrive in European showrooms in the second half of 2012.
Will the Yaris HSD ever arrive stateside? Company officials have shied away from answering that question, but it isn't likely. Seeing as the Valenciennes plant primarily builds Yaris models for European markets, we think the Yaris HSD -- much like Honda's Fit Hybrid -- may not be ported to North America.