TOYOTA has scrapped plans for widespread sales of a new all-electric minicar, saying it had misread the market and the ability of still-emerging battery technology to meet consumer demands.
Toyota, which had already taken a more conservative view of the market for battery-powered cars than rivals General Motors and Nissan, said it would only sell about 100 battery-powered eQ vehicles in the United States and Japan in an extremely limited release.
The carmaker had announced plans to sell several thousand of the vehicles per year when it unveiled the eQ as an pure-electric variant of its iQ minicar in 2010.
“Two years later, there are many difficulties,” Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s vice chairman and the engineer who oversees vehicle development, told reporters yesterday.
By dropping plans for a second electric vehicle in its line-up, Toyota casts more doubt on an alternative to the combustion engine that has been both lauded for its oil-saving potential and criticised for its heavy reliance on government subsidies in key markets like the United States.
“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 Uchiyamada.