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Auto Show:  2011 Tokyo Auto Show

Suzuki Swift EV Hybrid - Tokyo Auto Show

author photo by Jeffrey Archer December 2011

Amid the launch of several exciting new concept cars, Suzuki is debuting one new model at this year's Tokyo Motor Show that could see production. Officially dubbed the Swift EV Hybrid, Suzuki's most realistic concept is a plug-in hybrid based on its Swift hatchback, a popular global subcompact that isn't offered in the United States.

Under the Swift EV Hybrid's hood are two different methods of propulsion. The first, a small electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries, can propel the concept car around 20 miles before running out of juice. But for motorists who need more range, the hatchback also uses a gasoline-powered engine that acts as a "range extender," much like Chevrolet's popular new Volt hatchback.

Although the Swift EV Hybrid's 20-mile fully-electric range may seem short, the benefit of its abbreviated driving cycle is in the concept's recharging times. According to Suzuki, the hatchback can be fully recharged in just four hours with a standard wall outlet, and takes just 90 minutes to charge using a 200-volt power supply. That eliminates the need for a costly quick charger - a virtual necessity on plug-in hybrids and EVs with more batteries and larger electric powerplants.

Exterior updates to the Swift EV Hybrid are minor, and consist primarily of graphics displaying its name, plentiful green accents and futuristic headlights and tail lights. The same is true of the hatchback's cabin, which offers green trim but few other updates over the standard Swift's interior.

The Tokyo Motor Show also played host to the unveiling of a five-door version of Suzuki's performance-oriented Swift Sport. Following up on a three-door model launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this year, the five-door Swift Sport includes several interior revisions, a slightly more powerful 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and chassis upgrades that improve the hatchback's handling.

While Suzuki calls the Swift EV Hybrid a concept, we could see it going into production down the road. The five-door Swift Sport, meanwhile, is slated to arrive in dealerships around the globe - but not in the US - early next year.

What it means to you

Suzuki could be the latest automaker to offer a more efficient way of combing gas and electric power in a effort to get the most miles per gallon.

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Suzuki Swift EV Hybrid - Tokyo Auto Show - Autotrader