The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is barely out and about, and already Lexus is preparing for an even more compact hybrid. The concept for the new car, called the LF-Ch, will be revealed in Frankfurt in a matter of weeks.

The photo let loose today reveals a rear three-quarters view of the car that shows off some pleasant lines, a heavily-styled rear fascia and stealthed door handles - not all of which are likely to make it to a production version.

Unlike the HS 250h, the LF-Ch is tentatively being aimed primarily at Europe. Since Americans spare little love for hatchbacks, the car is already working from a disadvantage. Toss in the likely high final pricing due to its premium position and hybrid drivetrain, and you have a tough situation for Lexus in the U.S.

In Europe, where price points are higher across the board, there is more room to build in luxury and high-efficiency drivetrain options, and Lexus needs a way to compete successfully with the diesels that are so popular there. The match of compact hybrid hatch to European market makes a lot of sense.

But there are many - especially in the bigger cities - who'd love to have the option of Lexus reliability and style combined with a hybrid drivetrain capable of all-electric stints and a compact but useful hatchback body. So the door is still open, provided Lexus can find a way to shoehorn the car into a price and market position that Americans find acceptable.

All that's known for sure is that it will be a hybrid and that it will be on display at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show starting September 15, though you can expect full details and photos of the car to come 5 days early, on September 10.