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Toyota's Hybrid A 'Genre Buster'

Despite the Zen-like atmosphere at Toyota's design and research facility in Orange County, Calif., designers have been brewing up creative disruption on four wheels since 1973, including the 2001 Highlander SUV and the 2005 Scion xB. On Jan. 13 the company will take the wraps off a new concept truck--dubbed A-BAT--developed at Calty. It's yet another vehicle that could have embattled American automakers scrambling to catch up.

The sleek vehicle is roughly the size of Toyota's smallest SUV, the RAV4, despite looking much larger, thanks to an oversize front grill and rough-and-tumble body design intended to delight truck aficionados. The tough-looking pickup packs a hybrid gas-electric power supply to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

The A-BAT could prove popular with young buyers looking for a fuel-efficient but versatile vehicle. Erich Merkle, vice president for forecasting at IRN, says: "Such a vehicle is a real genre-buster, and that could leave competitors behind if the concept becomes a production vehicle." It is another important symbol of how seriously Toyota takes the U.S. auto market.

Read the whole story at Business Week »

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