Toyota hybrid concept has Prius-like efficiency

Craig Trudell
Bloomberg News

Toyota Motor Corp. moved a step closer to staking a bigger claim of the world’s fast-growing compact crossover segment, showing a second C-HR hybrid concept with efficiency similar to the new Prius.

The C-HR concept debuting at this week’s Frankfurt International Motor Show has five doors instead of the three featured a year ago in Paris. A production-ready model is planned for the Geneva motor show in March, according to a company statement.

“It’s the fastest-growing segment,” Karl Schlicht, executive vice president for Toyota Motor Europe, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We want to make sure that people understand that we’ve arrived, and we think it’s got fantastic potential here in Europe, especially the hybrid version.”

Putting C-HR into production will help Toyota meet exploding worldwide demand for sport utility vehicles and check Volkswagen AG as the German rival tries to snatch its global sales crown. Volkswagen led Toyota in worldwide deliveries during the first six months of this year and is slated to begin production of a new mid-size SUV in the U.S. in late 2016.

The C-HR will complement Toyota’s RAV4 crossover, just as Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. have added smaller models to their SUV lineups in recent years. Nissan has introduced the Juke and Qashqai crossovers, which are pegged below its larger Rogue SUV, while Honda is ramping up sales of the model sold as HR-V or Vezel, positioned under the bigger CR-V.

Toyota said the C-HR’s engine has thermal efficiency of more than 40 percent, matching a claim it made about the redesigned Prius hybrid shown last week in the U.S. Thermal efficiency is key to fuel economy.