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Auto Show:  2012 Geneva Auto Show

Toyota FT- Bh Concept: Geneva Auto Show

author photo by Nick Palermo March 2012
  • 112-mpg subcompact hybrid concept
  • Optimized aerodynamics and reduced rolling drag
  • Energy-saving auxiliary equipment

Toyota has a knack for showing far out and futuristic designs at the world's major auto shows. On display now at the Geneva Auto Show is the company's growing collection of wild concepts from the latest shows, plus a new addition. The FT-Bh concept is a 4-passenger subcompact hybrid with cutting-edge style that is as functional to fuel economy as it is forward-looking aesthetically. Toyota expects the lightweight vehicle to achieve 112 mpg thanks to a broad energy-conserving design agenda.

First, Toyota says weight reduction was a design priority, and the FT-Bh tips the scales at just 1,733 lbs. By comparison, that's a significant 562 lbs lighter than the Yaris 5-door, a vehicle that's about 3.5 inches shorter in length than the FT-Bh. High-strength steel body construction, a lightweight foam interior material and the concept's small gasoline engine all contribute to low mass.

Also key to high fuel economy is minimizing resistance, most importantly aerodynamic drag. The FT-Bh uses cameras in place of side mirrors for a more slippery shape. The tail of the vehicle is concave to further minimize drag. Rolling resistance is important, too, so Toyota fitted tall, narrow 145/55R18 tires.

Other than curtailing the energy required to push the FT-Bh down the road, Toyota sought also to reduce the energy consumed by auxiliary functions like heating and cooling the passenger cabin. Sensors detect which seats are occupied by passengers so no conditioned air goes to waste. Lightweight interior fill materials and breathable upholstery help passengers to remain comfortable. LED lighting cuts energy consumption.

The hybrid powertrain uses a gasoline engine that has just two cylinders and a displacement of 1 liter. That's small by US standards, but not uncommon globally. And the FT-Bh has the benefit of reduced weight and drag plus the assistance of a lithium ion battery pack and electric motor. A heavier vehicle might require more power, but this concept is light and slippery.

The engine is so efficient that it may not produce enough excess heat to warm the cabin in cold weather. To supplement, the FT-Bh also captures the heat of exhaust gas, a low-tech but effective solution also found on the original Volkswagen Beetle.

The FT-Bh illustrates the interesting, cyclical effect that conservation-minded design can have on a vehicle's fuel economy. Cut weight and drag, and a smaller engine can provide equal performance. While using less fuel, that smaller engine saves more weight, too. Keep trimming, and spectacular economy like the FT-Bh's 112 mpg becomes possible.

What it means to you: Toyota's FT-Bh concept illustrates the significant fuel-saving benefit of low weight and reduced wind and road resistance.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Toyota FT- Bh Concept: Geneva Auto Show - Autotrader