AMSTERDAM -- With seating for three adults plus one child within a three-meter overall length, Toyotas iQ expects to set new standards in packaging in the mini segment.
It appeals to a trend of downsizing, not only of engines but also in overall dimensions. By being the first to do so, we want to make iQ a contemporary icon, said Andrea Formica, Toyota Motor Europe vice president sales and marketing.
We did not want to be a basic car. Instead, we wanted to perform and behave like a big car, with basically no compromise in high-speed stability, Formica added.
The iQ introduces six space-saving innovations to help with packaging. It also has rear airbags to protect passengers during rear-end collisions.
Denso helped develop what Toyota claims is the worlds smallest automotive air-conditioning unit. These innovations will be used in future Toyotas, Formica said.
Selling the iQ will not be easy because it is so different.
Only the Smart ForTwo is shorter at 270cm overall. And the Smart is mostly directed at the entry-level commuter.
By contrast, the iQ is relatively expensive, at 11,900 for the entry-level version that does not include air conditioning.
Toyota believes iQ customers will likely be more prosperous than a typical small-car buyer. Instead, these status-conscious shoppers will seek sophisticated products and appreciate tailor-made engineering.
Formica said that dealers liked the iQ from the outset, but are also aware that selling a lifestyle product would be different.
Such affluent customers may be new to the dealer organization. They may know the iQ better than the dealers do, because they have informed themselves through the media and Internet, Formica said.
Toyota will promote the model outside the Toyota showroom, but not through traditional broadcasting. Formica also said that the iQ will be marketed equipment-adjusted in individual European markets.
Toyotas original plan was to produce an annual 100,000 iQs, 80 percent of which were to be sold in Europe. But the current economic conditions have forced the Japanese carmaker to cut its target to 65,000 units, but still with an 80 percent European allocation.