The Toyota Prius was not the first hybrid vehicle on the U.S. market - that honor goes to the Honda Insight - but it is still the poster child of hybrids and electric technology overall. It has taken Toyota quite a while to make the jump from hybrid to all-electric and now it appears that it may not be going all in with all-electric.
The news comes as the company is launching its iQ EV small full electric vehicle, which was originally planned to sell thousands of units, but is now being reduced to a production run of just 100. The iQ EV, which sells as the Scion iQ in combustion engine form as the Toyota iQ in Europe and Asia, as well as the Aston Martin Cygnet in a fancied up version, will get a 47 kW electric motor and a driving range of "about" 53 miles. The range is a manufacturer estimate and could still drop in the EPA rating.
Even for an electric car, the range is disappointing and renders the car useless for most scenarios, even for local purpose. According to the Federal Highway Association, U.S. drivers cover an average of 13,476 miles per year, or 36 miles per day. So, on average, the iQ EV fits this scenario very well. However, while females appear do drive only 27 miles per day on average, males drive 43 miles per day, coming within 15 percent of their driving limit that day. Throw in an extra run to Target and you may be in trouble.
"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," said Toyota’s vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada. As a result, the company said it will be focusing on hybrids and only offer its RAV EV in a production run of 2,600 units. Of course, range and charging is a big deal for EVs - and even Tesla's $100,000+ S sedan with a range of 265 miles is not exactly what we would call a car to take across the country due to its charging time and available charging stations. However, with a range of just 53 miles, it does not take extensive business analysis to figure out that such a car will not sell in huge numbers.