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Toyota goes cold on EVs

But the hybrid-vehicle leader plans to add 21 new hybrids in next three years

Published: September 26, 2012, 12:00 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 3:59 PM

Toyota FT-EV Concept - 2009

Toyota is backpedaling on its earlier plans for near-term volume production of a full battery-electric iQ minicar variant (branded as a Scion in North America).

Now the company says it will produce just 100 or so of the little EVs, to be called eQ, for both the Japanese and American markets.

Concept versions of the eQ were displayed at the Detroit auto show in 2009 (then called the FT-EV) and the Geneva auto show in 2011 (iQ EV).

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Toyota's only other confirmed EV plans are for the Canadian-built RAV4 EV utility vehicle, which is about to go on sale in California. The electric powertrain for the RAV4 EV was jointly developed by Toyota and Tesla, in which the Japanese giant holds a financial interest.

Toyota cites public concerns over the rate of advancement in battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technology as its reason for backing off on its previous plans.

"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, Takeshi Uchiyamada, vice-chairman of Toyota and a key player in the adoption and development of hybrid technology.

The company still has plans to introduce a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) in 2015, however. It says FCEVs have greater potential for public accepatance because of their greater cruise range and shorter charging time

It is also proceeding full-speed ahead on the hybrid front, promising to introduce 21 new hybrids, worldwide, by the end of 2015.

It is not clear how many of those 21 will be all-new models, how many will be hybrid-powertrain additions to existing models, how many will be plug-in hybrids or how many are likely to reach the North-American market.

Since the introduction of the first Prius in Japan in 1997, Toyota has sold more than two million hybrids worldwide. The company is offering a new Prius plug-in hybrid for sale in Canada this fall.