Paris Motor Show: Small Hybrids for Global Markets

All manner of exotic electric and plug-in hybrid concepts will be on full display at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, but the show’s more important story is the emergence of practical compact hybrids.

Small stylish, full-featured and fuel-efficient small cars were previously built for Europe but not the U.S. Yet, cars like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze are starting to arrive in America. That trend is starting to merge with production of hybrids, previously offered only in Japan and the U.S., now showing up in Europe.

The result could be a global wave of small hybrids for global markets, which makes sense considering the common push by global regulators to reduce carbon emissions and increase fuel efficiency. They’re not glitzy or especially powerful—but they could represent the first set of mainstream cars that are less expensive and far more fuel-efficient than anything else on the road today.

Toyota FT-CH

The “CH” stands for compact hybrid. First shown at the most recent Detroit Auto Show, the Toyota FT-CH is the leading candidate for beating the Toyota Prius’s 50-mpg average fuel economy. The display of the four-door compact—nearly two-feet shorter than the Prius—in Paris is a homecoming of sorts. It was styled at Toyota’s European Design and Development Center in Nice, France. Like other small and stylish European models heading west, the FT-CH is geared toward a younger hipper crowd.

The Lexus CT200h hybrid is another example of Toyota’s move to downsize hybrids.
As we reported a few weeks ago, the CT200h could be the first luxury vehicle to average more than 40-mpg.

Honda Jazz/Fit Hybrid

Honda is presenting the new hybrid version of its Jazz supermini at the Paris motor show.
While the Jazz, sold as the Fit in the United States, shares the same hybrid system with the Honda Insight and CR-Z hybrids, it’s small platform—tweaked to improve aerodynamics—is likely to surpass the other Honda hybrids in terms of fuel economy. It’s another candidate for the 50-mpg club. In addition, the Honda Jazz Hybrid promises the lowest CO2 output of any automatic car in the B-segment.

Japan’s Nikkei business newspaper reported that the Fit Hybrid would sell in Japan for 1.5 million yen, or about $16,750. That’s about $2,000 more than the conventional Fit, but about $3,000 less than the Honda Insight, which was supposed to make hybrids affordable but never quite accomplished that feat.

The Jazz Hybrid goes on sale in the UK in early 2011. It’s still uncertain if the small hybrid will make it to the United States.

Ford C-Max Hybrids

Ford C-Max

Ford C-Max

On the eve of the Paris show, Ford last night announced that it would sell conventional and plug-in hybrid versions of its C-Max European-style small van. It’s a step up in size from the FT-CH or Fit, but still small by U.S. standards, especially for a family vehicle.

Ford’s Valencia Plant in Spain will build the C-Max hybrids, the company’s first hybrid models for European customers. The C-Max hybrids will be launched in Europe in 2013, and will arrive in the U.S. the following year—although we will get only the Grand C-Max seven-seat model, not the shorter five-seat C-Max version.

The C-Max conventional and plug-in hybrids will use Ford’s powersplit architecture—in which the electric motor and gas engine can work together or separately to power the wheels. Production of a plug-in hybrid version of the C-Max confirms Ford’s commitment to vehicles that draw electricity from the grid, while offering driving range similar to conventional gas-powered vehicles.

The small platform, seven-seat configuration, and plug-in capabilities will be a powerful combination. When it arrives in the U.S., the Grand C-Max plug-in hybrid will likely become the most fuel-efficient seven-seat vehicle on the market.


  • Charles

    Oh boy a plug in Grand C-Max in 2014. Now can I make my Focus last till then?

  • Chip Daigle

    Hybrid technology is good but America is so far behind France and Britain in Science and Nuclear Power that it is bringing hybrids here is self defeating. Our PlugIn hybrids would be charged by Dirty Coal fired Power plants and would pollute almost as much as Gasoline cars. All because Dumb, Dumb, and Dumber Obamanistas refuse to embrace Nuclear Science.

    Its such a shame. Obama came into office touting Science and now we fall behind the rest of the world because of his biased stupidity.

  • EVman

    Hi Chip,

    While I’m all for nuclear power, you apparently don’t read other articles in HybridCars (or many other related sites either) that clearly shows how your statement that hybrids powered by coal fired electric plants “would pollute almost as much as Gasoline cars”.

    Here is a recent quote from HybridCars itself on Nov. 2009, “Under average US conditions, replacing a gasoline mile with an electric mile cuts global warming pollution in half”.

    So, please stop posting your political views coupled with false statements.

  • Rom

    The first nuclear power plant opened in 1954. How is that new science? That’s back when a gallon of gas cost 22 cents and an average home sold for $1700 bucks. Yet the radioactive waste will still be here 9,900 years past the the death of the people who thought it best to use it.

  • E Ozone

    You are all living in a dream world Electric cars and hybrid fuels have been around since the 70′s OIL companies have been paying all car manufacturers not to build them. And the Govt losers take those bribes every day. They have cars that run on batteries that go 0-60 in 3 secs. and can beat a 10 Cyl Dodge Viper in a 1/4 mile. The cost of these hybrids are a joke… it takes 9 yrs of driving one to pay what u save in fuel cost.

  • Oz

    LO who in there right mind would put nuclear material under there ass in a car can u say FKN MORON

  • Alexei

    Radioactive waste from nuclear power plants contains a lot off depleted uranium with a lot of highly radioactive materials which makes it unusable in conventional nuclear reactors. But fast neutron reactors can burn that waste, thus reducing it, which needs to be stored only for 50-100 years and also enriches the uranium (with non weapons grade plutonium), thus making it usable in conventional nuclear power plants. Another by-product is electricity.
    Unfortunately the fast neutron reactor is expensive to run, its profitability is close to 0, no loss no win in money. But this type of recycling can reduce the waste created when uranium is mined, enriched and its waste cleaned up.

  • Anonymous

    apparently chip has been smoking some of good old republican misinformation… yup, that’s how elite republicans drum up support from the classes they do not associate but loves to manipulate. free yourself of that chain. use the internet to do some research and the truth shall set you free!