Toyota has revealed its FT-EV concept, a battery city car that could see the automaker extend its range of alternative-fuel vehicles.
The car shares its platform with the iQ urban commuter, already a success in several global markets. The diminutive four-seater is the 2008 Japanese Car of the Year.
Toyota has taken the iQ one step further with the FT-EV, although Toyota insists it remains a concept - for now.
“Now, more than ever, while we are so focused on the pressing issues of the moment, we cannot lose sight of our future,” said Irv Miller, TMS Group vice-president for environmental and public affairs.
“Nowhere is this more important than with our industry’s duty and commitment to provide true sustainable mobility with vehicles that significantly reduce fuel consumption, our carbon footprint and overall greenhouse gases.
“We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size. This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity.”
However, Toyota has maintained that its conventional petrol-electric hybrid, such as the third-generation Prius also being shown at the Detroit auto show, is considered its core long-term power option.
By the early 2010's, Toyota will launch as many as 10 hybrid models in various markets. In 2008 the manufacturer announced that it planned to sell a million petrol-electric hybrids a year sometime during the mid-2010's.
On Monday Toyota's executive vice-president for research and development, Masatami Takimoto, told Reuters his company planned to roll out its pure electric car based on the FT-EV concept in Japan, Europe and the US by 2012.
Takimoto added that while a lot of the recent attention has been aimed at electric cars, further development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles is required.
"Toyota believes that in the long run we'll have small electric cars for short-distance driving, plug-in hybrids that run on biofuels for regular use, and on a bigger scale hydrogen fuel-cell cars will survive in the end game."