A couple of years ago when Toyota announced it was working on an all-electric version of its iQ microcar, EV enthusiasts were excited. But last month Toyota backtracked, saying it would launch just a small fleet of the tiny iQ EV. The Japanese automaker has now released details on where those few EVs are going, and it is mostly to college campuses and car-sharing services.
With a yet-to-mature market for electric vehicles, who can blame Toyota for wanting to pull back from a large rollout of EVs? Even its own dealers would rather sell hybrids than EVs, and the $50,000 Toyota RAV4 EV will allow the automaker to meet compliance standards in states like California. So the Toyota iQ EV isn’t really necessary to sell, at least here in the U.S. Perhaps Toyota would rather wait and see how the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive works out with customers seeking a little electrification in their lives.
Instead, Toyota will deploy around 90 iQ EVs to urban fleets and car-sharing programs centered around city college campuses. Looking at the stats for the iQ it is easy to see why; the top speed is just 78 mph, and the range from the 12 kWh battery is pegged at just 50 miles. The 0-60 mph time of 13.4 seconds is woefully slow, even for an EV, though a unique charging timer will supposedly slow the degradation of the battery pack.
The only other thing the Toyota iQ EV has going for it is room for four and a 13.5-foot turning radius. Knowing all this now, I totally understand why Toyota went with car-sharing over direct sales. While Toyota didn’t mention ZipCar by name, it is the most prevalent car-sharing service in the U.S., and a likely contender to receive the iQ EV.
Do you think Toyota is making the right move? Or should they still try to sell its tiny EV to would-be customers?