Toyota’s first electric vehicle will be a compact urban runabout with a 50 mile driving range between charges

Toyota’s first electric vehicle will be a compact urban runabout with a 50 mile driving range between charges

Toyota has announced that it will display its new FT-EV concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, while also confirming that it will launch an urban commuter ‘battery-electric vehicle’ (BEV) by 2012. The world's largest carmaker also revealed that it will start consumer trials of a fleet of 150 plug-in hybrids towards the end of this year and launch as many as ten new petrol-electric hybrid vehicles next year.

This announcement, coupled with its compressed natural gas powered Camry Hybrid concept display at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, signal Toyota's intention to broaden the scope of its advanced alternative-fuel vehicle development.

The all-electric FT-EV concept shares its platform with the iQ urban commuter vehicle, and can drive up to 50 miles on a single charge.

Although BEVs and new smaller vehicles like the iQ will be a key component of Toyota's sustainable mobility strategy, the conventional gas-electric hybrid, like the all new third-generation Prius, also set for this month’s Detroit event, is considered Toyota's long-term core powertrain technology. Additionally, Toyota plans to showcase a brand new Lexus dedicated hybrid called the HS250h.

Towards the end of the year, Toyota will start global delivery of 500 Prius plug-in hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries. Of these initial vehicles, 150 will be placed with U.S. lease-fleet customers. The cars will be used for market and engineering analysis. Lease–fleet customers will monitor the performance and durability of the first-generation lithium-ion battery, while offering real world feedback on how future customers might respond to the plug-in process.