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Toyota set for iQ-based EV launch in 2010

Coming soon: Toyota's next-generation electric car will be based on the iQ mini car, like the FT-EV concept shown at Detroit (left).

Toyota’s first mass-market EV due soon, complete with in-wheel motors

31 Jul 2009

DETERMINED not to lose the limelight to its Japanese and international competitors when it comes to all-electric vehicles, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has fast-tracked its iQ-based electric car development program and is now preparing to hit the market in 2010.

The global market leader in petrol-electric hybrid cars, TMC took the covers off a concept version of its fully electric IQ, dubbed the FT-EV, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. However, management told GoAuto at the unveiling that the vehicle – known internally as the BEV (battery electric vehicle) – was not due for release in the US until 2012.

Reports from the UK this week revealed the rescheduled launch date and confirmed details of the new EV, which, according to the iQ’s chief engineer Hiroki Nakajima, will “get its own bodywork” and will be positioned as a stand-alone model in an affordable, mass-market segment.

He also confirmed that it would feature in-wheel electric motors in conjunction with lithium-ion batteries – the first application of lithium-ion, as well as in-wheel motors, in a mass-production vehicle from TMC.

“We wanted to position the iQ as premium, but not so the BEV,” Mr Nakajima told Autocar, adding that the design needed to suit the requirement for in-wheel motors. “In every wheel we had to be able to fit an electric motor.”

8 center imageMr Nakajima said the zero-emissions BEV would have a range of 150km and require about eight hours for a full recharge.

“Our target is for customers to be able to charge it completely during the night,” he said.

Preliminary specifications and target performance details released in Detroit for the FT-EV concept showed that the four-seat development car used an 11kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor that generated 45kW of power and 160Nm of torque.

The concept had a claimed top speed of 110km/h and a cruising range of 80km before recharging – about half the distance TMC now claims to have achieved.

The charging times quoted in Detroit were 7.5 hours using a 100-120-volt charge, and just 2.5 hours with 200-240-volt electrical outlets.

“Now, more than ever, while we are so focused on the pressing issues of the moment, we cannot lose sight of our future,” TMC’s North American vice-president for environmental affairs, Irv Miller, said in Detroit.

“Nowhere is this more important than with our industry’s duty and commitment to provide true sustainable mobility with vehicles that significantly reduce fuel consumption, our carbon footprint and overall greenhouse gases.

“We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size. This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity.” Toyota Australia recently committed to launching at least eight new hybrid models in Australia over the next four years, starting with the all-new Prius, but it stopped short of confirming a timetable for EVs.

The iQ has been under consideration for release here, but Toyota Australia’s corporate manager of product planning Peter Evans told GoAuto earlier this month that the iQ was now an unlikely starter.

A spokesperson for Toyota told GoAuto this week that the BEV had not been confirmed for Australia.

“Like all models that are previewed elsewhere, there is always consideration for the Australian market,” she said. “Whether or not we can get supply is always an issue for our market. So while it might be under consideration, it is not yet confirmed.” Earlier this week, TMC denied reports that it was planning to build a hybrid version of its Yaris light car, dismissing suggestions that production was due to begin in 2011 in both Japan and France.

While Toyota management have said that it plans to have a petrol-electric variant in every model line by 2020, it seems that current hybrid engineering development priorities rest with larger vehicles.

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