First Look: Toyota FT-Bh Hybrid Concept

Geneva Motor Show stand has one more hybrid on it this week: it's called the FT-Bh concept, a petite hybrid that promises to take the efficiency of Hybrid Synergy Drive and tune it to a logical extreme with a lighter curb weight, a smaller engine, and other eco-minded tweaks.

The Toyota FT-Bh is the latest in a long line of Hybrid Synergy Drive-powered concepts to come from the Japanese marque, and this one sets ambitious fuel economy goals. All told, Toyota estimates that the car will get 134.5 miles to the gallon and emit 49 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. To put that in perspective, that's enough to drive from Manhattan to Springfield, Massachusetts using just one gallon of gas.

How does it do this? By thinking small. The vehicle is roughly the same size as the current model year Yaris, as well as the newly released Prius c: 13.1 feet long, 5.6 feet wide, and 4.6 feet tall, with a 101.18 inch wheelbase. Toyota says that the FT-Bh was built with reducing weight and aerodynamic drag in mind, so the resulting concept's final weight is 1733 pounds and its drag coefficient is 0.235. That svelte weightis thanks to extensive amounts of aluminum, high-strength steel, and magnesium in the FT-Bh's structure.

When not obsessing over the curb weight, Toyota designers sought other ways to improve the FT-Bh's efficiency. The windows, like those on a new home, are specially glazed to keep warm or cold air in, while the matte white paint protects the FT-Bh from unnecessarily heating up during the summer months. As a result, Toyota was able to redesign the heating and air conditioning system to require less power (it also sends warm or cold air only towards seats with passengers in them). All in all, the FT-Bh boasts an electricity consumption figure half that of most other cars.

The greatest gain is perhaps provided by the powertrain. The FT-Bh is uses a variant of the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system found in millions of Toyota Prius models, but this instance is both smaller and more efficient. The FT-Bh pairs a 1.0-liter two-cylinder engine -- which runs on the Atkinson cycle -- with an electric motor through an electrically variable transmission. Toyota hasn't announced any power figures for this new system, but it has said that the new system weighs nearly 200 pounds less than the equivalent Prius drivetrain and promises nearly 135 miles to the gallon.

As a parting gift of sorts, Toyota also said that the FT-Bh has been future-proofed: while the two-cylinder engine in the concept runs on gasoline, the system could be adapted in the future to run on compressed natural gas, or transition to a plug-in hybrid setup. Toyota estimates that a CNG hybrid would emit 38 grams of CO2 per kilometer, while the plug-in would emit just 19 grams.

For more on the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our 2012 Geneva Motor Show homepage.

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