Toyota FT-Bh Concept - 2012 Geneva Auto Show

By KBB.com Editors on March 8, 2012 5:48 AM

An exercise in ultimate efficiency, the Toyota FT-Bh Concept takes the automaker's Hybrid Synergy Drive system to a new plateau. Charged with creating a vehicle that could deliver the best possible fuel economy and lowest emissions without reverting to any costly or exotic solutions, the design team for this "Future Toyota B-Class hybrid" focused their efforts on five distinct functional areas. These included reducing vehicle weight, minimizing both aerodynamic and mechanical driving resistance, improving powertrain efficiency and optimizing thermal energy management and electric use. The result is a unique city car that offers the interior space of a typical five-passenger "supermini" yet weighs a mere 1,733 pounds and  can average 134.5 mpg.

Styled using what Toyota calls an "Ecomotion" theme, the FT-Bh's seriously unconventional exterior is meant to recall the look of fabric being stretched between tent poles. The basic shape has been fine tuned using a number of aero detailing elements from air curtain intakes on its front fascia to 18-inch air-stream alloy wheels mounting 145/55 low-rolling resistance tires to the dropped rear section of its pagoda-style roof.  While the FT-Bh's appearance may be controversial, it's hard to argue with the result: an absolutely brilliant 0.235 coefficient of drag.

The light and airy cabin of the FT-Bh Concept displays a similarly minimalist character, with slim-line pillar designs and a large greenhouse that afford great outward visibility for all aboard, ultra-trim Recaro seats and a driver-focused cockpit area. Special thermal glass and zone-directed climate control along with heat-insulating paint add to the FT-Bh's overall efficiency equation, and Toyota claims improvements to the interior/exterior lighting components have helped cut total electrical draw by 50 percent compared to a conventional counterpart.
 
Although the focused application of high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium played a major role in the FT-Bh's overall mass-reduction program, the smallest, lightest version yet of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system also contributed to the ultimate success in that effort. Motive force comes from a 1.0-liter/2-cylinder Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine and commensurately downsized HSD/battery elements that collectively weigh nearly 200 pounds less than their equivalent components in the Prius. Toyota says the FT-Bh also demonstrates the potential for using even cleaner hybrid pairings in the future, citing both a CNG-fired engine and a Plug-in version of this urban transporter also are possible.

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