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Toyota plots electric car in 2012; Prius family of hybrids

Toyota plots electric car in 2012; Prius family of hybrids

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Toyota has outlined its plans for multiple hybrid vehicle choices and an all-electric vehicle in 2012.

Toyota unveils the FT-CH compact hybrid concept.

Toyota has outlined its plans for multiple hybrid vehicle choices and an all-electric vehicle in 2012.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota unveiled its post Prius plans. You could call it a plan that revolves around a family of Prius-like vehicles.

In a nutshell, Toyota:

  • Launched an FT-CH dedicated hybrid concept vehicle. This vehicle is a compact hybrid designed for inner cities. In this vision, the Prius is essentially a mid-sized vehicle. The FT-CH is 22 inches shorter than the Prius, but about the same width.
  • Announced that it would offer more hybrid options to customers. It will introduce plug-in hybrids and battery-powered electric vehicles in 2012.
  • Laid out a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for 2015 in global markets.

Taking this Toyota plan further you can forecast hybrid power being like an option. You can go plug-in, all electric or gas electric. Later in the decade, you can toss hydrogen in the mix.

The message: There will be multiple options going forward and the hybrid playbook is far from being played out.

Toyota's effort is also designed to appeal to younger drivers. That market is highly coveted. In fact, Ford's launch of the Fiesta is aimed at the same market. Ford is tossing in technology such as Sync to also aim for this demographic.

The business implications are clear: If these automakers can land young drivers, there's a good chance they can keep them throughout their lives.

On this front, Toyota may have an edge. It has a marketing hit on its hands with the Prius brand and now plans a family of cars around it. Toyota added that it plans to sell 1 million hybrids a year globally, but mostly in North America. The company plans eight new hybrid models in the early 2010s.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure