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Ambitious plans for hybrids unveiled in Detroit

Toyota has confirmed ambitious plans for the future of hybrid vehicles, unveiling a new concept hybrid at the North American International Auto Show.

Over the coming years, the firm will build a hybrid family around the phenomenally successful Prius, introducing plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in model year 2012 and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2015 around the world. In total, the new Prius family will include eight new hybrid vehicles, either designed from scratch or hybrid versions of existing models.

"Within the next 10 to 20 years, we will not only reach peak oil we will enter a period where demand for all liquid fuels will exceed supply," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales president. "A century after the invention of the automobile, we must re-invent it with powertrains that significantly reduce or eliminate the use of conventional petroleum fuels."

Toyota's Prius is the world's most successful hybrid vehicle and the best-selling car in Japan. The new European-designed FT-CH concept is a compact hybrid that the brand is considering as a potential sister model. It is aimed at a younger urban generation, featuring a retro "8-bit" design and an overall length some 60 cm (two feet) shorter than the Prius.

German carmaker Volkswagen has also announced its hybrid plans at NAIAS. In the first half of 2010, it will launch its first hybrid model, an SUV. It also debuted a new hybrid concept, the New Concept Coupe (NCC) January 11. The NCC offers fuel consumption of 4.2 l/100 km (45 mpg)with a top speed of 227 km/h (141 mph), and can reach 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds (0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds).