Toyota’s electrification plan hits a hiccup: it doesn’t plan on selling its eQ electric minicar on a global scale, like its Prius line—instead, it’ll be limited to just 100 units in America and Japan, making it one of the rarest electric vehicles ever.
Why the change of heart from one of the world’s biggest global automakers? Well, “the current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs,” said vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, “whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”
An interesting quote from Uchiyamada-san, considering he was the one who spearheaded the development of the original Prius hybrid in 1996. It’s especially interesting coming from Toyota, who has so far led the charge towards hybrid vehicles but done far less with electric-only transportation. The company plans to have 21 hybrid cars in its lineup by 2015, with 14 of them being brand-new, but just one of those vehicles is all-electric: the RAV4 EV, which sells for $50,000 and is only limited to the state of California. (We drove it recently, which can be found here.)
“By dropping plans for a second electric vehicle in its line-up,” quotes Automotive News, “Toyota cast more doubt on an alternative to the combustion engine that has been both lauded for its oil-saving potential and criticized for its heavy reliance on government subsidies in key markets like the United States.
Toyota is losing money on each of the 2,600 RAV4 EVs it plans to sell in the Golden State, to comply with new CAFE regulations that mandate fleet-wide mpg targets for automakers. The RAV4 EV will help justify production of the Sequoia, for instance.
But the eQ? Too little (literally, as it’s based on the diminutive iQ urban runabout), too late, and too small in number to help Toyota reach new efficiency regulations. For that, Toyota has the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which is not meeting Toyota’s goals. Some of this is the consumer’s ignorance, which can be related to Toyota’s fault: “we believe that there is social demand for the plug-in hybrid, but our efforts to let the customers know what it is have not been enough,” said Uchiyamada.
If anything, plug-ins, not electric cars, are the way to the future. This has a little more relevance when it comes from Toyota. The RAV4 EV is practical, quick, and sacrifices little to meet its nascent electrification. The eQ? It has a 100-km range, or about 62 miles, on a full charge; it can reach a top speed of 77 miles per hour. Perhaps we won’t miss it too much.
Source: Automotive News