The world has not embraced fully electric vehicles the way many analsyts have predicted, and it is causing quite a star in the auto industry. With Toyota’s announcement to severely curtail development of an electric version of the iQ microcar, the EV industry seems to be in dire straits indeed.
Announced way back in 2010, the Toyota/Scion eQ was to be Toyota’s full-fledged effort at selling an electric city car. But after no doubt watching Nissan’s own struggles with both sales and battery woes, Toyota’s conservative corporate culture no doubt decided the risk outweighed the reward.
Turns out the high price and limited range of electric cars is making them quite the hard sell. So instead of going after thousands of international sales, Toyota says it will sell just 100 eQ electric microcars in the U.S. and Japan. That leaves Toyota with just the RAV4 EV “compliance car” that will cost a lot of money to own OR lease.
That also leaves the plethora of battery builders without another potentially huge client in Toyota. Panasonic will be providing the batteries for the limited offering of eQ microcars, which is barely a drop in the bucket on the parched landscape of electric car sales. The eQ, which could cost as much as $46,000 in Japan (and who knows how much here) will reportedly have just 62 miles of range from its 12 kWh battery.
Toyota’s other electrified offering, the Prius Plug-In is selling at a reasonable clip in America. But in Japan Toyota is still far from its goal of between 35,000 and 40,000 Prius Plug-In annual sales. The RAV4 EV is expected to sell around 2,600 units in the next 3 years. These are not inspiring numbers. Then again, things looked iffy for the iQ EV over a year ago.
No matter how you slice it, electric vehicles are not looking all that great, giving many automakers reason to second-guess their viability. With Toyota now toning down sales and expectations for an electric car many had high hopes for, it seems like pure electric vehicles are increasingly being shunned by major automakers.