If what Toyota tells us about the FT-Bh is true, it's not some futuristic fantasy, but a design study that points to what a next generation Yaris hybrid might look like. With an unbelievably low, sub-1,800-pound curb weight and a 0.235 coefficient of drag, the FT-Bh uses minimalist design rather than sci-fi technology to achieve 112 miles per gallon.

The FT-Bh packs a two-cylinder, one-liter gas engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle, and uses lithium-ion batteries for it's hybrid drive system. Toyota says a compressed natural gas hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version would also be possible.

But what's really impressive about the FT-Bh is its massive weight reduction. Toyota says it managed to reduce the mass of the car by 25 percent when compared to the current Yaris. Much of that came in the interior parts and trim, which weigh half that of the production car. Toyota says that this drastic diet also makes possible a low center of gravity – just over 21 inches – that helps improve the FT-Bh's handling.

While the FT-Bh may look a little weird – we're reminded of how odd the Prius looked before we'd gotten used to the shape – this may well be what the next generation of hybrids will look like. While Toyota has thrown out some branding buzzwords to describe the FT-Bh's "Ecomotion" theme (or is that "Under Priority" design language? or "Keen Look" styling?) the bottom line is that it's all about aerodynamics. This is why the FT-Bh uses cameras rather than side-view mirrors and doesn't have door handles. It's also why the front end has those "air curtain" intakes and there's an underfloor spoiler in the rear.

While we certainly wouldn't expect to see something so radical roll off a production line next year, as the company shows more concepts like this and the NS4 it showed at Detroit, it seems that Toyota wants its next hybrid designs to be as revolutionary as its first.

Check out our galleries of live and official photos, and see below for the full press release.
Show full PR text
FT-Bh – a concept bringing efficiency to a new level

- Concept designed to demonstrate minimised emissions within an economically viable framework
- Design inspired by the natural flow of the air
- 3,985 mm long combined with light weight body design resulting in a 786 kg mass
- High level of aerodynamic performance resulting in a Coefficient of Drag (Cd) of just 0.235
- High efficiency 1.0-litre petrol, 2-cylinder, full hybrid powertrain
- Aiming at 2.1 l/100 km and 49 g/km – a new milestone for a full hybrid powered vehicle


Making its World Premiere at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the FT-Bh concept is an ultra-light, sub-800 kg, full hybrid vehicle designed to lower fuel consumption and minimise emissions for an affordable B-segment family car.

Clearly expressing the Under Priority design language and Keen Look styling of Toyota's next generation vehicles, the FT-Bh has the dimensions of a B-segment vehicle. It is 3,985 mm long, 1,695 mm wide and 1,400 mm high, with a long wheelbase of 2,570 mm.

The new concept's design is driven by 5 key pillars targeting optimum fuel efficiency and minimised emissions: Mass Reduction; Driving Resistance in the form of aerodynamics and tyre rolling resistance; Powertrain Efficiency; Thermal Energy Management and Electricity Saving.

Combining a highly significant reduction in weight for a car of this class with painstaking aerodynamics, a rigorous reduction in driving resistance and a frugal yet highly efficient full hybrid powertrain, the FT-Bh concept is projected to deliver an average fuel consumption of just 2.1 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of only 49 g/km.

The FT-Bh targets CO2 emissions which are less than half those of the current 1.0 litre Yaris. But only through the mass-production of an affordable ultra-low emissions vehicle can sales volumes be large enough to make a genuine contribution to the real world reduction of total vehicle CO2 emissions on a global scale.

Aimed, therefore, at maximum affordability, the techniques and thought processes demonstrated in the concept's design do not involve the use of exotic, expensive materials or complex procedures, but only those already commonplace to the automotive industry.

Moreover, the goals of light vehicle weight, a low centre of gravity and maximum powertrain efficiency are beneficial not only in terms of low fuel consumption and emissions, but also in offering a more responsive, agile and engaging driving experience.

Design
Styled under the 'Ecomotion' theme, the FT-Bh concept's exterior design combines emotive shapes with an extremely high level of aerodynamic performance to achieve ultra-low fuel consumption.

Its form inspired almost entirely by the natural flow of air over the exterior surfaces, the concept represents a new approach to bodywork design. Key panels such as the roof are formed to represent fabric stretched taut between fastening points, reflecting their ultra-lightweight composition.

Inheriting elements of Toyota's Under Priority design language and Keen Look styling, the front of the vehicle is dominated by a large undergrille, a powerfully sculpted bonnet and vertical headlamps integrated into the front wings.

The stretched fabric styling of the roof panels adds a feeling of lightness to the vehicle. This is further emphasised by ultra-slim A- and C-pillars which maximise the glazed area of the cockpit for improved visibility and perceived cabin spaciousness.

The FT-Bh's arch-shaped rear creates a stable stance with low centre of gravity. With the cabin merging seamlessly into the rear of the vehicle, an uplifted rear bumper and crisp, chevron-shaped corner elements, the styling optimises aerodynamic performance, contributing to a low drag coefficient of only 0.235 Cd.

The stretched fabric panel design theme is continued throughout the car's interior styling, and is readily apparent in the form of the centre console, dashboard, seats and steering wheel. The concave form of the centre console creates a driver-focused cockpit whilst maintaining a feeling of both lightness and spaciousness.

Reduced Overall Mass
Fabricated in a combination of high-tensile steel, aluminium and magnesium, the FT-Bh concept targets an overall mass reduction of some 25% over the 1,030 kg 1.0 litre Yaris, bringing its total weight down to just 786 kg.

Because the hybrid powertrain is marginally heavier than a conventional 1.0 litre engine, the overall mass reduction required of the bodyshell, interior trim, chassis and electronics is actually some 340 kg, or 33% of the Yaris' weight.

Conversely, the FT-Bh's full hybrid powertrain adds some 60 kg in weight to the concept.

Toyota engineers have identified reduction targets of 33% for the body and chassis –with no detriment to safety performance- and 27% for the powertrain and electronics. With a body-in-white mass reduction of 20-25%, key to achieving a total mass reduction of over 30% is a reduction in the weight of interior parts and trim by approximately 50%.

This is reflected in the minimalist interior design of the FT-Bh concept, which features the minimum of structure and lightweight components of high torsional stiffness to combine superior ergonomics and functionality with the lowest possible weight.

Such a large saving in the weight of cabin parts has a highly significant 'ripple effect' in weight reduction throughout the rest of the vehicle. For instance, it reduces the applied load on both the body structure and the suspension, allowing for a commensurate downsizing of components. It also leads to a reduction in the required engine displacement, saving both weight and thermal energy losses.

Further benefits of such a substantial reduction in vehicle mass include a lower centre of gravity -just 541 mm- for more responsive, agile handling and powerful braking, and a reduction in production costs, making the vehicle more readily affordable to a larger cross-section of customers.

Lowered Driving Resistance
Measures to save fuel by reducing the road load of the FT-Bh concept are focused on aerodynamics and a tyre rolling resistance coefficient reduction. Minimisation of the aerodynamic coefficient of drag and the vehicle's particularly small frontal area target a resistance reduction of 25%. And the use of low rolling resistance tyres accounts for a significant improvement in fuel efficiency.

The concept is a comprehensive study in next generation aerodynamic techniques. It features air curtain intakes to the frontal extremities, air-stream alloy wheels, airflow-disrupting door mirrors replaced by cameras, handle-less electric latch doors, a pagoda roof with a dropped rear section, and a sharply cut rear end section incorporating an air outlet slit and an underfloor spoiler to smooth the flow of air away from the rear of the vehicle.

In combination, these measures lower the FT-Bh's coefficient of drag from a B-segment average of about 0.29 Cd to just 0.235.

The new Toyota concept highlights several cyclical 'efficiency benefit sequences' made possible by the synergy between aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

For example, if fuel efficiency is improved, then the powertrain generates less heat, and the cooling system can be downsized. This allows for a reduction in the amount of cooling air necessary, allowing the front of the vehicle to be changed. This change lowers the coefficient of drag, in turn leading to a further improvement in fuel efficiency.

The fuel tank provides a further example: if fuel efficiency improves, the fuel tank can be downsized. Downsizing the fuel tank allows the amount of air that flows under the rear of the car to increase, which decreases resistance. Aerodynamic drag is reduced, leading to an additional improvement in fuel efficiency.

The concept rides on narrow, large diameter, 145/55R18 low rolling resistance tyres, which make a further significant contribution to lowering the FT-Bh's road load and driving resistance with no loss of grip or traction.

High Efficiency Powertrain
The FT-Bh's full hybrid drive system is a masterpiece of powertrain downsizing. Almost 90 kg lighter than the Prius' HSD system, it features substantial weight savings to every component of the drive-line.

The petrol engine is 38 kg lighter than that of the Prius. And the lithium-ion battery pack weight is almost half that of the Prius' nickel-metalhydride battery.

The lightweight, 2-cylinder, 1.0 litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine combines high efficiency with a low thermal capacity. Combustion efficiency has been maximised through the adoption of a long stroke, a high, 13:1 compression ratio, a next generation D4 injection system with a high fuel-injection pressure, a larger Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system with cooling and a high tumble port design.

Ultra-low friction measures have been applied to the axis receivers, timing belt and electric water pump, and painstaking thermal energy management involves the use of a low heat capacity, reduced cold friction and the careful control of heat flow to regulate engine oil and water temperatures.

As a result, this remarkable powertrain achieves an average fuel consumption of only 2.1 l/100 km, and CO2 emissions of just 49 g/km.

A combination of light vehicle weight and hybrid power offers FT-Bh drivers a return to the fundamental pleasures of city driving. The concept's light, 786 kg kerb weight maximises responsiveness to both throttle and brake inputs, while the hybrid powertrain's electric motor produces maximum torque from a standstill to provide nimble drivability in traffic.

Reinforcing the adaptability of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive® technology to alternative energy sources, the FT-Bh also serves as a study for even greater fuel efficiency in the mid-term future through the potential installation of two alternative powertrains: a compressed natural gas hybrid (CNG-HV) version with CO2 emissions of only 38 g/km, and a Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version emitting just 19 g/km of CO2.

Thermal Energy Management and 50% Electricity Saving
The FT-Bh targets improvements in the recovery of thermal energy and a 50% reduction in electricity consumption.

Using the twin strategies of a reduction in demand for heat and a reduction in heat loss, further stringent measures are applied within the interior. The FT-Bh uses lighter cabin components that have a smaller thermal capacity or a high degree of thermal insulation. Carefully zoned air-conditioning targets only occupied areas of the cabin, and any remaining waste heat –already minimised due to the ultra-high-efficiency hybrid powertrain- is effectively used.

The current draw from the FT-Bh's LED headlamps, interior lighting and other electrical components has been drastically reduced, lowering power consumption to 50% of that of conventional cars. The glazing construction has been designed for maximum thermal efficiency, and even the concept's pearl white, matte-finish heat-reflecting paint possesses excellent thermal insulation characteristics.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      Lou Grinzo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Before all the melodramatic pearl clutching over the looks of this car begin, let me say: I love it. I would gladly drive a car that looks exactly like this, but I would choose a different color just because I don't like white cars in general. A lot of alternative fueled vehicles are butt ugly, often for no other reason than to try to stand out. This one has a purpose behind the WTF looks: aerodynamics. Sure, it looks like the illegitimate love child of a trigger fish and a Scion xA, but it looks that way for a reason, and it has a funky "hip to be square" appeal.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lou Grinzo
        I don't object to the looks, which are fine to another warthog, but don't much like the heavy slope of the roofline at the back, which must restrict rear seat headroom. Presumably this is just concept car stuff, and any production version would be less heavily compromised, even if it bumped the Cd up to, say. 0.25
          Neil Blanchard
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          The sloping roofline is the single most important part of the low drag shape. That and the crisp Kamm back trailing edges. If I squint when I'm looking at the front fenders, then this is an awesome looking car, in my opinion anyway. Neil
        Sasparilla Fizz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lou Grinzo
        The xA part is calling you Lou....
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is the best aerodynamic car they can do? There are plenty of sports cars that are aerodynamic, model it off a Lamborghini or Lotus (Like Tesla). That kind of car is almost as bad as the Kia box and the Scions. Good weight and good mpg though. That is more like it. But they need to work on price. And getting rid of standard mirrors and door handles doesn't sound like a cheap thing to do. They need to get the price under $20k before gov incentives...
        Neil Blanchard
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        The Tesla S is 0.22 which is quite impressive, but 0.235 is pretty darn good considering that the original Honda Insight was 0.25, and it had the rear wheel skirts. Side video mirrors help both the Cd and the frontal area, so they are well worth it. I've been using my own video mirrors for over 3 years now. The components cost me about $200. If I had to buy replacement stock mirrors, I thin they would easily be more than 2X that much. Don't forget that the remote power optical mirrors are not as simple as you might think. Video mirrors do *not* need to be adjusted for different drivers, since you are looking at the screens. No need for heating the mirrors, either. Neil
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        "That is the best aerodynamic car they can do? There are plenty of sports cars that are aerodynamic, model it off a Lamborghini or Lotus (Like Tesla). That kind of car is almost as bad as the Kia box and the Scions." The Toyota concept is already more aerodynamic than a Lamborghini or the Tesla Roadster (0.35Cd). Indeed, it's even lower than the Model S which is around 0.25Cd.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would certainly understand if by "production" they meant units in the tens to hundreds. Just like Honda, and Mercedes, and GM have done. Full-scale production (in the thousands) by 2015, optimistically. It sure would have been nice for ABG to have covered such a controversial and potentially market-changing announcement.
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      Don't get too attached to that front end styling. The 1950's Caddy rear fins mounted on the front where they can impale anyone they run into could never pass European Union pedestrian safety regulations. Otherwise, nice concept car.
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Apparently aerodynamics is not as intuitive as I had thought, because this just doesn't look very slipery to me. The current Prius looks more aerodynamic, but I'm not the best guy to make those judgements. I saw something interesting, however, in this wikipedia entry on drag coefficient: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_drag_coefficient Apparently, the 2010 Prius was advertized as having a Cd of 0.25, but it was independantly tested to be 0.30. That makes me wonder about the claimed 0.235 Cd for this concept.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        "Apparently aerodynamics is not as intuitive as I had thought..." No kidding. No wonder groups like government research labs, universities, and automobile/aerospace manufacturers invest in supercomputers and massive wind tunnels to evaluate their designs instead of just designing something that "looks slippery."
          BipDBo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Like I said, I'm not the best guy to make such judgements. It's especially difficult to judge with just a couple of internet photos. I'm sure seeing it in person could answer some of my questions. I know that aerodynamics is a complicated art/science and my novice intuition isn't the best tool for the job. Part of my engineering education was fluid dynamics and I've done a bit of research and experimentation in aerodynamics, though mostly on airfoils. I'm just having a hard time in particular, visualizing from these photos, how the "air curtian intake" fins over the front fenders are more aerodynamic than more conventional fender and air intake designs. It seems to me that they, along with the intake area under the front bumper, would tend to take in more air than would be needed and cause a bit more turbulant drag while doing it. I'm also finding difficulty seeing the justification in the sharp crease along the hoodline.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          What we have here then is a learning opportunity! The opportunity to see next-gen aerodynamics applied, to get us thinking in new ways about what can be done.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        The unrealistically low ground clearance, heavy downsweep of the roofline limiting rear passenger space, and the strange fins at the from endangering pedestrians are all concept car stuff, and neither they or the ultra low Cd would survive going to production..
      Neil Blanchard
      • 3 Years Ago
      In general I am impressed! The front fenders are iffy for production, and the interior looks fanciful -- though I hope they keep the thin seats -- they make a a lot more room usable. Do we know if it is a "pure" serial hybrid i.e. does only the electric motor drives the wheels, and the 1L 2-cylinder Atkinson-cycle drives the generator only? I'd definitely prefer a plugin serial hybrid version! A Cd of 0.235 on a car with open wheels is quite impressive, too. Bring it on, Toyota! Neil
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Actually I like it except the front - which is about the look they wanted, ugh. Although based on what Toyota did with the Prius C (concept to production) they'd never let this front out to the public. The rest of it (side and back) reminds me of a previous generation Mazda 5 that had started to melt - fix up the front and its not a bad looking vehicle at all.
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 3 Years Ago
      The article I'm linking to is saying production in 2015 (launching it (design) in 2012 would get you a car in about that time if they are quick). So maybe that's what they are talking about Letstakeawalk, giving the vehicle a go (from concept) this year? Probably a Honda FCX Clarity type of "production" for 2015 (couple of hundred for PR leases). http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-31346_7-57380928-252/toyotas-fcv-r-hydrogen-concept-car-heads-to-europe/ http://www.autoblog.com/2011/11/30/toyota-fcv-r-concept-tokyo-2011/
      Gwido
      • 3 Years Ago
      There's a mistake in that text. If you listen to the actual speech, Mr. Leroy clearly states their plan to produce an FCV by 2015 http://www.toyota-global.com/events/motor_show/2012/geneva/message.html
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Definitely needs work in the looks department, it's a cool concept though.
      EVnerdGene
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey Dan, Why would the Atkinson have to go ? It is used in every Prius.
      • 3 Years Ago
      1800 pounds... just like my 2002 Honda Insight. One litre engine... just like my 2002 Honda Insight. Low drag... just like my... nevermind. Do like the look and the high-mileage... but I'll stick with my 70mpg Honda Insight for now... not much savings per month in gas to go from 70mpg to 110mpg. Maybe $20 a month savings over 1000 miles a month? Not enough to make up the increased car payment and insurance.
    • Load More Comments