Japanese carmaker Toyota, which has been researching and developing electric vehicles for 40 years, says it is going to focus on hybrids for the foreseeable future.
Its first electric vehicle, the RAV4 EV, which was launched in 1997, has only sold 1500 models in the US. Now the company is ready to launch its iQ EV (known as the eQ in Japan), which has been specifically designed for city commuting.
But despite the iQ EV’s lightweight, energy efficient design, newly developed compact lithium-ion battery that sits underneath the cabin floor, and regenerative braking system, which gives the vehicle a range of 85 km and a charging time of three hours, Toyota said this week that it is going to focus on plug-in hybrids in the short to medium term instead.
The company said in an announcement this week that it believes that most customer are not willing to compromise on range and don’t like the time it takes to recharge the batteries of electric vehicles.
So even though the iQ EV is ready for production, Toyota says it is going to concentrate its commercial activities on plug-in hybrids like the Prius, which offers 25 km of pure electric driving and a back-up hybrid system that can deliver a range of over 1200 km without recharging or refuelling.
Toyota will release the iQ EV, but only on a limited basis to local governments and selected users in Japan and the US. By comparison, it expects sales of its hybrid models – which will stretch to 21 new models over the next three years – to reach over one million this year alone.
For further information:
UK government incentives for electric vehicles not working (21-Sept)
UK low emission vehicle sales start to accelerate (14-Sept)
UK new car emissions fall by 4.2% in 2011 (18-Apr)
UK take-up of electric cars reaches just over 1000 in 2011 (9-Jan)
26 September 2012