Hybrids are here to stay with the technology being integrated into more and more of the Toyota line up. At present, that includes the Prius, Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid. In fact, Toyota sees hybrid technology as the core for what it calls "the ultimate eco car". This car of the future would be the result of combining technologies that include alternative energy sources, customized, high-performance internal combustion engines, electric power and fuel cells.
Among the most promising avenues being explored are Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles (FCHV). These vehicles use fuel cells where a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen produces electricity for both motors and driving power, with water as the only byproduct. Hydrogen is not only plentiful but is also friendly to the environment and will help reduce our dependency on oil.
At the same time, with the removal of the internal combustion engine, fuel cell technology allows a radical re-shaping of the cars we drive. Fuel cells produce little heat, noise or vibration and can be placed anywhere in a vehicle. Because engineers and designers don't have to concern themselves with creating physical linkages between engine and wheels, the usual design restrictions need not apply, and they can concentrate fully on ensuring passenger comfort and safety.
Take, for example, Toyota's Fine-N, a hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicle with drive-by-wire technology and in-wheel motors. The Fine-N has its fuel cell and other components mounted under the floor, thus allowing for a very flat surface and an over-sized cabin interior with few obstructions. That makes for an innovative package that is not only environmentally-friendly but also a joy to pilot.
For those looking to combine fuel economy and low emissions with sporty get up and go, there's Toyota's CS&S (Compact Sports & Specialty) concept car. A 4-wheel drive sports car, the CS&S use the Hybrid Synergy Drive and space age "Toyota Space Touch" holographic function controls to create a vehicle for the race car driver in all of us.
With the FTX concept full-sized pickup, there's no danger of the work truck being left behind. Providing a strong hint of Toyota's vision for its next generation trucks, the FTX comes equipped with a large-displacement V8 hybrid gas-electric engine that delivers loads of horsepower with V6 fuel efficiency. Stylish muscle while keeping the environment in mind.
No matter what shape the future of personal vehicles takes, the basic concepts that fuel Toyota's hybrid power program will remain in play for a long time to come. Cleaner, more fuel efficient and more powerful vehicles will always be in demand-and Toyota's hybrid power will be there to meet that demand.