Toyota, Honda Fight for Small Hybrid Supremacy

In September, we relayed reports that Toyota is working on a hybrid version of the Yaris subcompact, to be manufactured in France as early as this spring. While that time line now seems ambitious—by about a year—Toyota has confirmed that it will unveil the Yaris Hybrid concept at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

Toyota Yaris height="242" />

The company hasn’t yet revealed any details about the car, but did release a single photo to provide some indication of the unique styling applied to the hybrid Yaris.

The Yaris is likely to be targeted to the European market, while the upcoming Prius C—unveiled last month at the Detroit Auto Show—will be the Toyota subcompact for U.S. consumers. “The Prius C concept is an inspiration for us to build a future vehicle coming in the first half of 2012 that would be the most value-oriented vehicle of the Prius family, and have the highest mileage of any cordless hybrid,” said Doug Coleman, Toyota’s Prius product manager, in an interview with HybridCars.com.

Two years ago, Toyota introduced another small electric-drive vehicle, the FT-EV electric concept, at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The FT-EV concept, expected in 2012, shares its platform with the company’s Japanese and European minicar, the Toyota iQ. The iQ is larger than the quintessential minicar, the Smart Fortwo, but not by much. Its wheelbase is a little more than five inches longer, and on the whole, the car is only about a foot longer than the Smart—11.4 inches to be exact. The Toyota FT-EV concept, offers driving range of 50 miles, according to Toyota.

Meanwhile, Honda is working on small electrified vehicles as well. Last month, the Honda Fit Hybrid beat out the Toyota Prius to become the top seller in Japan, though the company has been reluctant to bring the car to the United States. Honda executives told HybridCars.com last year that their current trio of small hybrids—including the Civic Hybrid, CR-Z, and Insight—leave little room for a Fit gas-electric here.

Honda Fit Shuttle

Honda Fit Shuttle

Honda will soon unveil the Fit Shuttle, a slightly more spacious version of the Fit, at the Geneva show as well. The Fit Shuttle will be also offered with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology, using a 1.3-liter engine—meaning a wagon-type small hybrid.

An all-electric Fit-EV is planned for release some time in 2012.


  • usbseawolf2000

    2012 will be an exciting year with many affordable cordless hybrids along with plugins (without compromises) hitting the market.

  • Dom

    I wonder how the hybrid Yaris will compare to the diesel Yaris you can already buy (both in Europe)…. ??

  • Anonymous

    I read that the Prius V for Europe will be available as a seven-seater.

    Any truth to that?
    Why not in America?

  • RadMon

    I guess the Yaris HSD will perform more or less as the Auris HSD.

    Auris HSD gets 3.8/3.8/3.8 l/100 km and 89 g/km CO2 in EU test cycle, in comparison to Auris 1.4 D-4D with 5.7/4.4/4.9 l/100 km (city/highway/combined) and 129 g/km CO2.

  • Matthew

    Don’t get me wrong hybrids are good for the environment, but they just look damm ugly in my opinion. It also isn’t very hard to convert a car to a hybrid if you handy with DIY. And if you pay attention to a few things you milage can also increase a lot. For example:
    1. Use Cruise Control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
    2. Avoid Excessive Idling
    3. Observe the Speed Limit
    4. Remove Excess Weight (junk in the trunk)
    5. Use Overdrive Gears

    When you use overdrive gearing, your car’s engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

  • Matthew

    Don’t get me wrong hybrids are good for the environment, but they just look damm ugly in my opinion. It also isn’t very hard to convert a car to a hybrid if you handy with DIY. And if you pay attention to a few things you milage can also increase a lot. For example:
    1. Use Cruise Control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
    2. Avoid Excessive Idling
    3. Observe the Speed Limit
    4. Remove Excess Weight (junk in the trunk)
    5. Use Overdrive Gears

    When you use overdrive gearing, your car’s engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

  • usbseawolf2000

    Matthew,

    Prius is a very good DIY car. I have 140k miles and it is very easy to take care of. I just use the repair manual and it is easy to follow.

    Most of the items on your list also applies to hybrids to improve MPG. There are hybrid specific items you can add to the list (like grill blocking during winter, etc..).

    Once you own a full hybrid, you can’t go back.

  • Anonymous

    @Matthew, How much mpg do you expect to ‘save’ from adopting your suggestions?

    I think those have been ‘preached’ since 70s and how many Americans on the road do you think follow them? 5%? 3%? 1%?

  • Anonymous

    @Matthew, How much m.p.g. do you expect to save from adopting your suggestions?

    I think those have been preached since 70s. How many Americans on the road do you think follow them? 5%? 3%? 1%?

  • Charles

    Remember the grief that Obama got for talking about tire inflation? Americans are very lazy drivers. If it is not automatic most drivers will not even try to do something that saves fuel. Look at the number of fuel wasting performance robbing automatic transmissions sold over the last 50 years.

    PS, I know that the newest automatic transmissions are not fuel wasters.

  • DownUnder

    Mattew,

    You’re smart. Have you ever heard of hypermiling?

  • indigo

    I like the look of the Fit Shuttle. It’s less ugly than the Prius C.

    I’ve been driving my Insight-II for a year and it is *very* easy to exceed 50 MPG. Sometimes I can get above 60 MPG.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. I think the Fit Shuttle will be available for sale in a few weeks time.
    Just can’t wait for it.

  • Anonymous

    Media report:
    “NHTSA probing 44,000 Toyota Highlander Hybrid crossovers over stall risk

    According to The Detroit News, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has opened an investigation into almost 44,000 Toyota Highlander Hybrid vehicles from the 2006 model year over stalling concerns. The agency has received a total of 32 complaints, with 21 of those incidents involving engine stalling at speeds of over 40 mph.”

  • Shines

    I wonder how many do it yourselfers could do these things:
    1) Swap out the lead acid battery in the engine compartment for a much larger NiMh or Lithium battery in the trunk (lithium battery requiring special temperature controls to prevent fires)
    2) Changing the brake system from friction pads to regenerative braking to return energy to the battery
    3) Adding an electric motor to the drive system to assist the combustion engine.
    4) Adding electronic controls to coordinate the power between the electric and combustion engine and battery and to shut off the combustion engine when decelerating and waiting at stoplights.

  • Shines

    Media report:
    “NHTSA probing 44,000 Toyota Highlander Hybrid crossovers over stall risk.

    The article also indicated that there have been no injuries or accidents because of the issue…

  • Anonymous

    @Shines, are you suggesting that the government should close its eyes, just like what Toyota did about the accelerator jamming/’unintended acceleration’ debacle – waiting for another San Diego incident and more fatalities?

  • Shines

    @Anon – I am not suggesting at all that the govt should close its eyes. Toyota is going ahead and recalling all the vehicles in question. I am just pointing out that it is a good thing that no one has been injured by this issue.

  • Anonymous

    @shines: Oh, I’m sorry. I mistook what you meant.