Toyota is bucking the trend of making electric cars and instead plans to focus on Toyota hybrid models, as the company announced it is working on 21 new hybrid models. The planned Scion iQ electric model, called the eQ, is still slated for production, but not on much of a scale.
Toyota hybrids to stay the norm among greener Toyotas
When people think of hybrid cars, the first one they think of is the Toyota Prius, the archetype of the breed. Well, really the archetype for the modern iteration; hybrid power trains actually predate the starter motor and keys in the ignition. Modern hybrids use similar principles, with modern components.
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At any rate, Toyota arguably does hybrids better than anyone else, which is part of the reason why, according to Automobile magazine, the company is not going to be making many electric cars for the time being. Reducing environmental damage and offering greater fuel efficiency is a priority for car makers, and also the public, but instead of looking to batteries, a slate of new Toyota hybrid cars are going to hit the market in coming years.
Range anxiety also an issue
By 2015, 21 new Toyota hybrid models are going to be available, so more of the range will have a gas-hybrid option and perhaps a few more hybrid-only models like the Prius will come out. The reason Toyota is pushing more hybrids, rather than go with electric vehicles which are a bit more in vogue, is for one, they basically make the best, and for two, electric cars aren’t the most practical.
According to PC magazine, vice chairman and head of vehicle development Takeshi Uchiyamada told news agency Reuters that “current capabilities of electric cars do not meet society’s needs,” citing cost, range and charging time.
Toyota isn’t ditching electric cars completely. According to Fox News, the RAV4 EV is still slated to go on sale soon. An electric version of the Scion iQ mini, dubbed the Scion eQ, is also still going to be released. However, it is being scaled back; instead of a few thousand per year, only about 100 will be made per year and sold for fleet use only, in Japan and the United States. It’s likely heading to major markets only, so an Atlanta, Ga., Scion dealer or dealer in New York might get them, but don’t expect to see one out in the boonies.
It will be one expensive Scion, at $45,000.
Concentrating on hydro instead
Alongside expanded Toyota hybrid offerings, the Toyota FCV is still scheduled for 2015. Fuel cell vehicles are electric cars, the difference being that hydrogen fuel cells require a steady stream of hydrogen to produce electricity, rather than relying on batteries. The Honda Clarity, one of the few available FCVs, takes minutes to refuel, whereas the Leaf takes hours. The Clarity can also go several hundred miles before refueling.
Along with that, according to Automobile, Toyota also has more refined continuously-variable transmissions pending and engines engineered for greater efficiency. The internal combustion engine is still some time away from its swan song.