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.
Add on to that the fact no one wants to pay for the infrastructure spending for gas station like charge stations and the fact that charging the battery is not quick. This limits range for many. If you live in a city, chances are you live in an apartment building. And if you live in an apartment building, there's no garage for you to park in. You're not gonna drive your car upstairs to plug it in overnight, or hang an extension cord out your window. EVs do not have a healthy infrastructure to work with.
Finally, people are simply skeptical. They're terrified of a high electric bill, not realizing that relative to their gas bill it will be equal if not lower (electricity per kWh to fully charge an EV like Toyota's is less than a full-tank of gas for a comparable car).
All this stuff combines to make EVs difficult to sell. They're expensive to build, and to sell them you have to make price them very low, therefore making for low profit margins. As a company, that's not gonna cut for shareholders. It may be worth it for regular people, or various special interests, those concerned about the environment, but in the end Toyota, like any other for-profit company, is going to make decisions that make them money. And this one doesn't seem to make much money. You can argue they should stick to it longer, but truth is that wouldn't work in the end. They aren't designed for going full-bore on EV projects, until EVs actually gain more favor with the general public.
i think you misread the article.. it has a range of 53 miles not a top speed of 53 miles.. one thing electric vehicles have over combustion engines is faster acceleration