No Toyota EV Minicar For Now

We are sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but you’ll have to dream differently if you are one of the few dreaming of driving an EV minicar built by Toyota.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s vice chairman and the engineer who oversees vehicle development, told reporters that Toyota “had misread the market and the ability of still-emerging battery technology to meet consumer demands.”

Uchiyamada is no stranger to exploring new technologies as he is the one who spearheaded the Prius development for Toyota.

In 2010, Toyota released the eQ concept as a pure-electric variant of its iQ minicar. Toyota also unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, also in 2010, the FT-EV II concept of a small urban EV minicar.

“The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,” said, Uchiyamada.

This leaves the company with only one pure EV in its lineup, the all-electric RAV4 co-developed with Tesla. Even this one will be a low-volume affair as Toyota expects to sell only 2,600 units over a three-year time frame, with sales mostly confined to California and its surroundings.

This does not mean Toyota is walking away from green technologies. Far from it. The company expects to have 21 hybrid gas-electric models in its line-up by 2015; moreover, it has declared previously that it expects to have a hybrid variant available for every vehicle it sells.

Toyota also sells a plug-in version of its Prius Liftback, and this one is in the lineup to stay.

What this decision means is simply that Toyota does not believe, considering current available technologies, it can offer an EV that will properly answer the needs of its prospective buyers. It also means Toyota would rather dedicate its engineers efforts on developing other green vehicles that will actually be in-line with the needs of consumers.

It is also important to realize the door is not closed forever on such a minicar offering from Toyota. The company is simply waiting to have access to the technology that will make the vehicle worthwhile … And wait for a more evolved charging network.

Reuters


  • Van

    “The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,” said, Uchiyamada.

    Yes that pretty much sums up the current status of EV’s, which then suggests plug-in hybrids, which have log range, less cost, and no need to recharge except overnight at home.

    On the other hand, this pretty much indicates Toyota does not have a production ready battery like the 400wh/kg, $125/kwh claim by GM’s recent investment.

    I do hope the next generation battery is not vaporware.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Toyota has NEVER been fully committed to the EV or any plugin solutions. After all, why should it? It is about money. It has invested so much in its Prius and crappy Synergy drive train. It won’t benefiting anything from going full electric.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Toyota has NEVER been fully committed to the EV or any plugin solutions. After all, why should it? It is about money. It has invested so much in its Prius and crappy Synergy drive train. It won’t benefiting anything from going full electric.

  • Van

    I see nothing wrong with not putting all the eggs in one basket, but the decision to put such a small battery in the PHV does support the premise Toyota did not want the PHV to surplant their full hybrid system. Bravo to Ford for their Energi decision.

  • Volume Van

    How about a Plugin version. Anyway the IQ is high cost low sales product. Instead of buying a regular IQ for 17K, we can spend another 3K to buy Prius C.

    IQ – EV version will be just a waste of money. Instead they can sell a plugin version of Prius C for around 25K and definitely that will be a good seller.

  • John D.

    I think they are stating the obvious; Currently, we are not at a point to make and market an EV only car. I think this will happen at some point. I suspect the buyer would be very happy with a 200 mile range EV at a reasonable price. Right now, you pay a lot for an EV such as the Leaf, but at it’s best it has a 100 mile range. We all know what happens in colder climates where you are heating the car, pushing through snow and ice with a less than capacity battery. We are not at a point where people can reliably charge their car at work, so the round trip range becomes the number to watch.

    Toyota, if nothing else, is a very practical company. As charging stations become more widespread, range densities and prices drop, they will jump in when they feel there is a reasonable product that they could make.

    If you are like me, you practically funded the computer revolution by buying the coolest thing hitting the market, time and time again. Unfortunately, there are not quite enough of us to fund the EV revolution ;)

  • Max Reid

    Hello John

    There are 13,000 EV charging stations in USA and its increasing at the rate of 1,000 / month. Some day it may cross the 160,000 gas station count.

    Along with that there will be more EVs / Plugins and also the charging time will improve and the cost of battery will go down making those vehicles cheaper.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @John D,

    I disagree. If EV range limitation is really the problem, then cars such as Volt is more than fine for most users. Even the new Energi version of the Ford offering will work.

    As far as charging network goes, there are plenty around all major cities. Even in the middle of NOWHERE, RV parks are your best friends as proved by one Tesla owner recently in his trip between SEA and SF.

    The key difference is “fast” charging. Like I said, 80% of the population do NOT need that capability 90% of the time. If we have even 5% EV ownership, I would have been happy. But we are NO WHERE near that. This is why I am a HUGE supporters of cars such as Volt or Energi cars from Ford since they are the best thing to allow people to migrate and understand EVs without range anxiety…

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    @John D,

    I disagree. If EV range limitation is really the problem, then cars such as Volt is more than fine for most users. Even the new Energi version of the Ford offering will work.

    As far as charging network goes, there are plenty around all major cities. Even in the middle of NOWHERE, RV parks are your best friends as proved by one Tesla owner recently in his trip between SEA and SF.

    The key difference is “fast” charging. Like I said, 80% of the population do NOT need that capability 90% of the time. If we have even 5% EV ownership, I would have been happy. But we are NO WHERE near that. This is why I am a HUGE supporters of cars such as Volt or Energi cars from Ford since they are the best thing to allow people to migrate and understand EVs without range anxiety…