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Detroit Preview: Secret Toyota Hybrid Concept A Subcompact

Smaller-Prius expected to go on sale in 2012

 |  Dec 27 2009, 2:39 PM

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***See AutoGuide’s LIVE 2010 Detroit Auto Show Coverage Here***

Toyota has said it will unveil a new hybrid concept car at the Detroit Auto Show, and according to recent reports it will be a subcompact and will go on sale in 2012. Two teaser photos of the car most certainly show a small car and now the Detroit News is reporting that as a subcompact it will slot in underneath the Prius in Toyota’s lineup.

The car will debut in concept form on January 11th at the Detroit Auto Show but has already been given the green light for production, with sales beginning in early 2012 in North America.

There is a possibility that this new subcompact hybrid will use the Prius name, as it already has a strong following and has become the most recognizable name in hybrids.

Toyota’s current subcompact is the Yaris, but it is not known if this new model will use the same basic architecture. It will, however, most certainly undercut the Honda Insight and is likely to get better fuel economy that the Honda hybrid. (Honda is expected to deliver a hybrid subcompact in the near future as well). Some reports have suggested it could use more powerful lithium-ion batteries, but we have to think Toyota will first debut that technology on the Prius plug-in hybrid.

In addition to this news, the Detroit News is reporting that a premium Lexus hybrid hatchback, based on the LF-Ch concept, is being fast tracked to market. It is expected to be called the CT200h.

GALLERY: Toyota Hybrid Concept

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[Source: The Detroit News]

 |  Dec 03 2009, 6:26 PM

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Lexus continues to probe the U.S. market to see if it is ready and willing to accept a premium hatchback model. At the LA Auto Show, Toyota’s luxury division is displaying the LF-Ch hybrid hatchback concept that the company first introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Lexus has confirmed the model will inspire a production model but company representatives initially insisted it would only be offered in Europe. Now execs in the U.S. are openly commenting that if there is interest, the car could see dealerships by as early as 2012. Lexus has already confirmed that the car will see production in Europe in 2011.

While the LF-Ch concept is a hybrid, recent reports suggest the production model might not be. However, Lexus has applied for a patent on the name CT200h – which certainly sounds like a hybrid to us.

In production form the LF-Ch would compete against vehicles like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30.

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Debut in LA

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 |  Nov 23 2009, 12:24 PM

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Rumors that a Lexus might bring a premium hatchback model to North America have been swirling since the automaker first introduced us to the LF-Ch concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show a few months back. Toyota’s luxury arm then stoked those flames by announcing that the premium hybrid hatchback concept would be shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.

Now a company exec has confirmed Lexus is using this showing, as well as one a month later at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, to gauge the public’s interest.

In an interview with TheDetroitBureu, Lexus General Manager Mark Templin said that if response is favorable, then a production model could see dealerships by as early as 2012. A model based on the LF-Ch is already confirmed for European Lexus dealerships for 2011.

Templin also said that while the car would be premium and come with plenty of high-tech goodies, it would not be cheap. He pointed to a more European-style buyer that is emerging in North America, that doesn’t necessarily equate luxury with size. He even said that in the future Lexus would look at even smaller luxury cars, but ones priced beyond the ES or IS.

Word hat the LF-Ch would become a production reality in the U.S. first emerged when it was confirmed that Lexus has registered the CT200h name – which presumably stands for a compact touring (read wagon or hatchback) model with roughly 200-hp and a hybrid setup . Surprisingly, however, Templin said that despite the focus on a hybrid model, it is likely the car would launch with a conventional gasoline engine.

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

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[Source: TheDetroitBureau]

 |  Oct 07 2009, 10:33 AM

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Lexus has announced that along with the world premiere of a new two seater supercar concept, it will show the LF-Ch hybrid hatchback concept for the first time in Japan. Unveiled last month at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the LF-Ch is expected to lead to a production model, in Europe, by 2011.

Lexus sees the premium compact segment as an important one in Europe and wants to build the LF-Ch hatchback to compete directly with cars like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Volvo C30.

Recently Lexus also posted a survey on it’s U.S. website, polling consumers on if the LF-Ch would be a viable vehicle for the North American market. With this debut in Japan, one has to think Toyota’s luxury arm is also thinking about a road-going LF-Ch for its home market as well.

Lexus has been typically tight-lipped about the LF-Ch concept, but it has registered the CT200h name in North America, suggesting that is what the car will eventually be called. We should also expect a hybrid powerplant aimed at giving higher performance with increased fuel economy.

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

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 |  Sep 29 2009, 11:41 AM

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While the official word from Lexus is that the LF-Ch concept is set to become a premium-level hybrid hatchback in the European market only, Toyota’s luxury arm is also (rather obviously) studying the possibility of bringing the car to North America.

Lexus has just launched a new page on its U.S. website, with a link to a survey. The list includes eight short questions, mostly dealing with the style of the car and its 5-door layout. Also included are how highly you rate the importance of a hybrid powertrain, as well as the all-important “Should Lexus build this car?”

So don’t be shy. Share your thoughts with Lexus here:

Lexus LF-Ch Survey

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

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GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept Live in Frankfurt

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 |  Sep 15 2009, 10:04 AM

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Despite a strong presence on this side of the Atlantic, Lexus has yet to penetrate the European market. But they folks at Toyota’s luxury arm are hoping that a premium level hatchback in the compact segment – that also just so happens to be a hybrid – will help them win over a new (younger) generation of customers.

The LF-Ch Concept is a look at what that vehicle may look like.

Lexus is staying tight-lipped about the possible hybrid drivetrain but it is expected to be either that found in the new 2010 Prius or in the HS250h – that later of which is not scheduled to go on sale in Europe. Lexus also did not comment on if the LF-Ch production version would see U.S. shores.

A production version is planned to start in 2010 to compete against cars like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30. The name is expected to be CT200h, as Lexus has already submitted a patent for that alphanumeric combination, as well as a few variants.

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Sep 09 2009, 7:59 PM

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After several teaser images, Lexus has finally released a full selection of exterior and interior images of the LF-Ch Concept, which will officially debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 15th and head into production next year.

Set to compete in the premium compact segment against cars like the Volvo C30, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, this new Lexus hatchback will be the only hybrid in the segment. Lexus isn’t saying anything about the hybrid system yet, however, and there’s no guarantee they will when the concept debuts in Frankfurt. Lexus has filed for patents on several new names, including CT200h, which seems to indicate the car will come with a hybrid powertrain similar to the one in the HS250h.

The entire design for the LF-Ch evokes Lexus’s L-Finesse design language. While the exterior is definitely sporty with oversized rims, an aggressive stance, LED headlights and plenty of jagged lines, the interior might just be more impressive. This is no Prius. Inside there are equally as many hard and sharp lines with a sporty steering wheel (featuring paddle shifters), as well as a DVD/Navigation system that pops out of the dash. There is even a version of Lexus’s Remote Touch feature, as seen on the RX450h.  

GALLERY: Lexus LF-Ch Concept

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Sep 01 2009, 10:22 AM

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The first official photo of the upcoming Lexus hybrid hatchback concept car has been released. The new car, expected to be called the CT200h when it finally makes its way to production in 2010, is being called the LF-Ch by Lexus for now.

Originally designed specifically for the European market, which will not get the Hs250h, recent rumors have suggested it may also makes its way to the U.S.

The LF-Ch is a premium-level hatchback designed to take on vehicles like the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volvo C30.

There is no confirmed word on engines or pricing, but with the CT200h name we suspect the luxury hatch will use a similar setup to the Prius, with an electric motor mated to Toyota’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder, making roughly 200hp. Pricing is expected to be around the $30,000 mark.

[Source: CAR]