Toyota is presenting a prototype of the world’s first hybrid flexible-fuel vehicle (hybrid FFV) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which it hopes will become commercially available in the future. The prototype uses a Prius as a base model, and will undergo plenty of real-world road testing in Brazil to evaluate the system’s reliability, durability and powertrain performance.

According to Toyota, a hybrid FFV has the potential to reduce total CO2 emissions by leveraging on the benefits of its hybrid system (high energy efficiency and low emission levels) and the CO2 reabsorption capacity of ethanol, a plant-derived 100% renewable fuel. Being a flexible-fuel system, the powertrain can also use regular petrol should ethanol not be available.

Initial studies indicate a hybrid FFV offers better environmental performance compared to a standard FFV. This is according to CO2 emissions starting with the extraction of the raw material, through its distribution at the fuel pumps to the ignition in the combustion process of the car. These results are further improved when using only sugarcane-based ethanol (E100 fuel).

Development of the hybrid FFV is one of several efforts by Toyota to achieve its “Environmental Challenge 2050,” where it is looking to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 90% in comparison with 2010 levels, by 2050. Another objective of the Environmental Challenge is to completely eliminate CO2 emissions from the vehicle lifecycle, including materials, parts and manufacturing.

“I am very proud of our Toyota do Brasil engineers that worked closely with our engineers in Japan to develop the world’s cleanest hybrid vehicle that uses ethanol for our Brazilian customers. The invention demonstrates our journey in providing a new mobility society,” said Steve St. Angelo, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor serving as CEO of Toyota Latin America Region and Caribbean, as well as chairman of Toyota do Brasil.