To take a look in and around the Hybrid X, it might appear as if Toyota engineers and designers were simply trying to cram as many "gee-whiz" gadgets into the car as possible. LED lighting, touchscreen interior displays and controls, even a perfume diffuser help contribute to the car's futuristic mystique.
Notably, the designers used very few knobs, buttons or dials, opting instead to give the driver nearly all information and access to controls through the interface of an elegant touchscreen in the dash. Toyota insists all this gadgetry fits in with what the company calls its "Vibrant Clarity" design philosophy. According to Toyota, Vibrant Clarity is "A design ethos grounding all design work in a unique and emotionally vibrant identity that speaks clearly of Toyota. Offering sustainable mobility for modern families, the environmentally advanced technology is another step closer to Toyota's vision of a zero smog-forming emission future" [source: Toyota].
Other notable features of the Hybrid X include:
- See-through roof
- Rearward-opening "suicide doors" for rear passengers
- Lightweight, ergonomically contoured seats
- Swiveling rear seats for more interactive passenger conversation
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Steer-by-wire electronic controls
- Touchscreen interior ambiance adjustment including lighting, music, and even smell
Toyota interior designer Laurent Bouzige said of the car, "Hybrid X is conceived as a multi-sensory experience. There is a formal style in the shape of the vehicle and the material used but every other reaction is linked to the passengers' senses of sound, smell, sight and touch through interactive ambience" [source: Left Lane].
It so turns out that the third-generation Prius, introduced as a 2010 model, improves on its predecessor, but is nothing as radically different as the Hybrid X -- the early speculation was a false alarm. That means fans of the Hybrid X will have to wait some while longer before a production version faithful to the concept car goes on sale -- if ever.
If it's any consolation, anyone enamored of the Hybrid X should keep in mind that concept cars often signal design or technology elements that a car company intends to use in the near future, even if the specific model never enters production. So don't give up just yet on that "smell diffuser" appearing in your next vehicle.
For more information about the Toyota Hybrid X and other hybrid car technology, follow the links below.
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- Garrett, Jerry. "2009 Prius: Not So Fast." The New York Times. June 19, 2007. (June 14, 2009) http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/06/19/2009-prius-not-so-fast/
- Toyota.com. "Hybrid X -- Sustainable mobility for modern families." (June 10, 2009) http://www.toyota.com/concept-vehicles/hybridx.html
- Swan, Tony. "Toyota Hybrid X Concept - Auto Shows. Is this the next Prius?" Car and Driver. March 2007. (June 13, 2009) http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/hot_lists/car_shopping/green_machines/toyota_hybrid_x_concept_auto_shows
- Hybridcars.com. "Toyota Hybrid X." (June 13, 2009) http://www.hybridcars.com/concept-hybrids/toyota-hybrid-x.html
- Left Lane News. "Toyota Hybrid X Concept." Mar. 6, 2007. (June 12, 2009) http://www.leftlanenews.com/toyota-hybrid-x-concept.html
- BusinessWeek. "Toyota Takes Europe -- By Design." July 10, 2006. (June 14, 2009) http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jul2006/id20060710_858167.htm