Toyota has unveiled the FT-CH dedicated hybrid concept at Detroit. The FT-CH is part of Toyota’s strategy to offer a wider variety of hybrid options, even as it begins to introduce plug-in hybrids and electrics vehicles in 2012 and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2015. Dedicated means that the FT-CH is a stand alone hybrid model – like the Prius – and isn’t based on an existing car.

The CH in the name stands for “compact hybrid” and the FT-CH sits below the Prius in size. Styled at Toyota’s European Design centre in France, the inspiration behind the design is one of the more bizarre stories. Apparently, the team looked to the “vivid, high-energy appeal of the 8-bit generation”. Popularized in the early 80s, 8-bit microprocessor technology dominated the budding home video game industry (remember the Micro Genius?). Toyota says that today, 8-bit is considered a retro-style that’s fun and innovative, colorful and stylish, with strong appeal to young buyers.

Lighter and even more fuel efficient than Prius, the FT-CH targets a younger, less-affluent buyer demographic. Toyota is developing a Prius family “marketing strategy” for North America that will take full advantage of the Prius brand equity, says Jim Lentz, Toyota’s US boss. “The strategy is still taking shape and obviously it will require additional models to qualify as a family,” said Lentz. “Among others, the FT-CH is a concept that we are considering.”

More pictures after the jump.

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