Is Toyota Really Building A Prius Crossover?

Toyota is one of the global leaders for hybrid cars, and yet the automaker’s alternatively-fueled vehicles have been markedly absent from the crossover segment.

But just as the RAV4 Hybrid is about to hit the market, talk of a second electrified CUV has started churning. On display at the Frankfurt auto show this month is a smaller, sportier hybrid crossover: the C-HR Concept.

And Toyota has approved it for production.

The announcement came this week from Karl Schlicht, the executive vice president for Toyota Motor Europe.

C-HR Concept“We want to add this to our lineup,” Schlicht said of the C-HR in an interview with Bloomberg. “We think it’s got fantastic potential here in Europe.”

Toyota said it selected Europe for the initial C-HR release because it’s “the most demanding market for small and mid-sized vehicles,” adding that the company “uses this region as benchmark for defining future global A-, B- and C-segment cars.”

SEE ALSO: Toyota Unveils 2016 Prius – Video

Schlicht didn’t elaborate on the timeline for C-HR production, but promised that full details would be released at the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2016. The final C-HR might not look identical to the current rendition, he advised, as Toyota finalizes the design.

But here’s what we know right now:

  • The C-HR Concept is a five-door crossover, with a hatchback and what appears to be half-sized rear doors hinged at the back. Interior photos haven’t been shown, but the setup of the doors may mean that this hybrid crossover will lack a B-pillar, a design seen recently in a few other crossover concepts.
  • If the final C-HR maintains a size similar to the original concept debuted at the 2014 Paris auto show, this crossover will be sized smaller than the current RAV4. The first C-HR Concept measured 171 inches in length, 72.8 inches in width and 59 inches in height. In comparison, the 2015 RAV4 is 179.9 inches long, 72.6 inches wide and 67.1 inches high.
  • The C-HR will be built under Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which includes hybrid powertrains with more power and better fuel economy than Toyota’s previous models. The 2016 Prius was the first to debut under this program. TNGA models will also share more parts, so it’s likely that the C-HR will boast a similar powertrain and battery to the new Prius.