The Toyota EV is a diminutive electric microcar that looks like a sheet-metal rendition of Spielberg’s ET. It joins a family of petite, odd-looking peers such as the Nissan LEAF and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. They may look like escape pods from outerspace, but these eco-friendly subcompacts are poised to change the future of urban transportation.
Unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Autoshow, the current iteration of the Toyota EV is based on the Toyota (Scion) iQ, a four-passenger microcar in production since 2008. Toyota borrowed the design of the iQ and gave it an electric powertrain modeled after Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive. A lithium-ion battery pack powers a 47kW permanent magnet synchronous motor which sends power to the front wheels. It can propel the EV to a top speed of 78 mph via a CVT. Fully charged, the EV has a range of approximately 65 miles, plenty of distance for the average urban daily commute.
Electric cars are often levied with accusations of wishy-washy impracticality. To improve its viability, the EV has two charging sockets located in the front fascia, one for 100/200v AC current and the other for quick-charge DC. The battery can be fully recharged via 100v AC power in merely four hours, while quick-charge DC power can recharge the battery 80% in approximately fifteen minutes, a sensible estimate for real-world driving.
Toyota plans to first introduce the EV in Europe via a leasing program, with trials in the U.S. and Japan soon to follow, and says it is “investing [the EV’s] viability in other regions.” Toyota has kept mum on the specific features offered in the EV, although pundits guess amenities will be similar to the iQ’s.
Who says a penny is not worth anything? Elfreth does not – and neither does the Toyota EV.