Toyota to counter GM's hybrid SUV onslaught with a mini hybrid onslaught?

The unexpected stars of this year's Geneva Motor Show were small cars. I expected hybrids or electrics to really make news but small cars stole the show. One of those small car stars was the Toyota iQ which will be released in half a year or so. How did Toyota do that? I think they had some help from Daihatsu, a car company Toyota bought a 51 percent stake in 1999 and one of Japan's most prolific maker of small cars. Daihatsu made the UFE (ultra fuel economy) III concept in the picture above (see it in a video below the fold) and first shown in 2001. The UFE III's drag coefficient is .168, it get gets 169 miles per gallon and it's a hybrid.

GM will probably beat Toyota on the hybrid front on shear numbers alone. GM's mild or Two Mode hybrids, according to GM's own marketing, will make SUVs as fuel efficient as small cars. Do you see an open market? Daihatsu was the first company in Japan to release a mini hybrid. There is some talk the iQ might even be a plug-in hybrid. Will Toyota release the first mini hybrid this year? However Toyota decides to leverage their Daihatsu subsidiary, if the UFC III concept is any indication, it's sure to be interesting.

[Source: YouTube]

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