Published September 24, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
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.