Toyota Motor Corp. will show an EV prototype version of its iQ model at the Geneva auto show next month, ahead of a sales launch in 2012.
The minicar will have an electric powertrain based on the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system and a new flat lithium-ion battery pack that Toyota claims will give the car a potential driving range of up to 105 kilometers (65 miles) on a single charge.
''The EV prototype represents Toyota's long-term vision for short-range, sustainable mobility and demonstrates the adaptability of Hybrid Synergy Drive technology for a range of alternative power systems,'' the automaker said Tuesday in a statement.
The EV prototype will be tested on European roads this year, with a potential market introduction through a leasing program expected in 2012. Toyota has already announced its plans to bring the car to market in the U.S. and is also investigating its viability in other regions.
Just a little larger than the SmartForTwo, the gasoline version of the Toyota iQ costs 11,900 euros ($16,089) in Germany. Toyota has not published prices for the iQ EV, but in November the automaker said the battery-powered iQ will be cheaper than rival electric cars such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV or the Nissan Leaf. Both are larger than the 3+1-seat iQ.
Toyota EV projects
The iQ is being developed in-house, but Toyota is also working with luxury EV maker Tesla Motors Inc. on an electric version of its RAV4 compact SUV. U.S. sales of the SUV are planned for 2012.
The electric cars are part of a push by Toyota to boost its range of environmentally friendly vehicles that will include the introduction of 11 hybrids by the end of 2012, including all-new and redesigned models. A Prius-based plug-in hybrid will also launch by early 2012 in Japan, the United States and Europe, with targeted sales of more than 50,000 units a year, priced at 3 million yen ($36,000) in Japan. The car can be plugged in to an electricity source to enable longer-distance driving using only electricity.
Toyota is also developing a sedan-type fuel-cell hybrid vehicle, with sales aimed to start in 2015 in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. The company said it is researching development of next-generation batteries with better performance than lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric cars.
"Such research is aimed to help bring about the revolutionary advances in battery performance that will be necessary for the broad adoption of electric-motor-propelled eco-cars," Toyota said in a statement in November.