A cryptic press release from Toyota today revealed that a new battery-powered concept car would make its global debut at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Speculation as to what the concept might be has already taken hold of the motoring press, but a few hints gathered from Toyota's recent remarks could point the way toward one possibility.

A teaser image of the car, revealing an 'EV' logo to match the FT-EV name of the car and a gold color scheme accompanied the news of the concept, shows nothing of the vehicle's design. Toyota is already expected to reveal a new Prius hybrid at the show, so the car isn't thought to be a Prius derivative, especially with the FT moniker, though that remains a possibility.

Instead, Toyota has been talking about a city car with a price tag under $20,000, reports The Detroit News. That hints at a possible EV version of the iQ, which has been tipped for possible U.S. sale at a starting price under the base-level Yaris's $12,000 list price. Whether the new EV would share the Scion badge that's expected for the iQ, however, is unclear.

The battery-powered concept car could be a short-range-only vehicle, unsuitable for highway use, reports The Wall Street Journal. If that's the case, it wouldn't likely fare well in the U.S. outside of New York City or similarly population-dense locales, but it would open up the possibility of using the iQ's platform, since the limited range and lack of a petrol-powered engine would negate the need for much space.

Previous Toyota concept vehicles to bear the FT name include the FT-SX, a crossover-styled sport-luxury vehicle and the FT-HS, a hybrid sports car with a futuristic design. The FT-EV, if based on the iQ, wouldn't necessarily follow in those footsteps, though its high-tech powertrain and forward-looking position as a short-range lifestyle vehicle could complement the futuristic family theme.

The new Prius also expected to be on display at the Detroit Auto Show is thought to have a plug-in hybrid powertrain, to maximize both range and efficiency. Since the Prius's current form factor proves it has ample room for both types of drivetrain it becomes a matter of reconfiguring the setup to allow electric-only drive with the on-board engine used as a generator. The plug-in Prius is expected to hit the retail market in late 2009, and is already undergoing testing in several markets.

Expect more details on the new FT-EV concept as the show draws nearer to its January 11th kickoff.