Toyota kills plans for widespread iQ EV sales after misreading demand and battery tech

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Toyota iQ EV plugged in

2012 was supposed to be the year the all-electric version of the Toyota/Scion iQ made a splash. Instead, it appears that while it remains technically true that the iQ EV will launch this year, it will be a much, much smaller splash than previously anticipated. According to Reuters, the iQ will have an “extremely limited release.”

That’s a kind way to say that the 100 iQ EVs that Reuters says Toyota will now sell in the U.S. and Japan is a much smaller figure than was anticipated. The writing has been on the wall for a while. All the way back in 2009, Toyota hinted that the EV, which can only go 50 miles on a charge, might be destined for car-sharing services, and in 2011, a Toyota spokesperson confirmed the iQ EV would be a “low-volume vehicle.”

Now, the official Toyota line (see below) is that:

Toyota has seen that many customers are not yet willing to compromise on range, and they don’t like the time needed to re-charge the batteries. Moreover, the infrastructure for recharging has not become as widespread as originally anticipated.

So, even though Toyota is ready with the iQ EV, we believe a plug-in hybrid solution offers a better way than pure electric for most customer needs in the short- to medium-term, and that is where we will concentrate our commercial activities.

Toyota vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada tells Reuters, “The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

Compare this attitude to the one displayed by Daimler, which today has hundreds of Smart Electric Drive vehicles functioning as car-sharing rides through its Car2go program in places like San Diego, CA and Austin, TX. Toyota will still move forward with the launch of the RAV4 EV, and expects to sell around 2,600 of them in the next three years.