I like the idea behind it (“green and lean”) but couldn’t Toyota come up with a design that doesn’t look like something out of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”? I keep expecting a Oompa Loompa to pop out from under the hood of this thing. If Scooby Doo and Shaggy lost their van, they would probably drive something like this, if the Great Dane could fit in it. No gear head worth his weight in engine grease would be seen dead driving this thing. It looks like grandma’s golf cart and even she might find it a little too cutesy.
The vehicle is part of Toyota’s plan to launch an urban commuter battery-electric vehicle by 2012. This announcement, coupled with its compressed-natural-gas-powered Camry Hybrid concept display at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, signal Toyota’s intention to broaden the scope of its advanced alternative-fuel vehicle development.
Toyota doesn’t know whether Americans will accept the limitations of battery technology, namely the 50-mile range, when the production Toyota iQ with a 1-liter engine offers 56 miles a gallon economy with a much greater range.
My feeling is that people in the U.S. will like this car and won’t have a problem with the 50-mile range. Most of us don’t commute more than 50 miles round trip per day (the average is 32 miles round trip) so it shouldn’t present a problem that way. But, can’t they make it look a little better? Sure, you’ll get young girls and tree huggers to buy into the look of the vehicle, but men, in most cases, won’t go for the vines, birds and twigs painted all over it.
Since the FT-EV is a concept, the car in the photo isn’t for sale. An educated guess regarding the price could begin with a comparison with the Toyota iQ. In Great Britain the car starts at around $14,000 at current exchange rates. An electrified iQ might cost about this, or less, when it arrives in 2012.
An electric motor generating 45 kilowatts of power allegedly pushes the FT-EV to a maximum speed of 70 miles an hour. Engineers hope to achieve a cruising range of 50 miles after a 7.5-hour lithium-ion recharge at 110 volts, or just 2.5 hours of juicing from a 220-volt outlet.