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Scion announces all-electric version of tiny iQ

October 19, 2012|By David Undercoffler
  • About 90 all-electric Scion iQ EV microcars will soon be available for car-sharing programs around the U.S.
About 90 all-electric Scion iQ EV microcars will soon be available for car-sharing… (Toyota )

Scion’s tiniest car is going green.

Toyota’s youth-oriented brand has announced it will make about 90 all-electric versions of its thumbnail-sized iQ minicar for use in car-share programs (like ZipCar) in cities and campuses around the U.S.

While the pint-sized gas version we tested in October 2011 was never a particularly thirsty car (it’s rated at 37 mpg in both city and highway driving), dropping an electric drivetrain into a car like this makes plenty of sense. Electric cars have an excellent range when driven in cities because the frequent starting and stopping gives the regenerative brakes ample opportunity to recharge the batteries.

Toyota says the iQ EV’s 12 kWh, lithium-ion battery will have a range of up to 50 miles in city driving and will charge fully in about three hours using a 240-volt outlet. The car gets 63 horsepower and 120 pound-feet of torque from a 47 kW electric motor, and will do zero to 60 mph in 13.4 seconds.

Another advantage to using an iQ for city driving is how absurdly easy it is to park, a helpful trait when you’re on the hunt for a curbside respite in and around L.A. At only 10 feet long (your average family sedan stretches an additional 6 feet), the iQ can fit in spaces the size of trash cans.

Inside, the car uses some helpful technologies to keep drivers informed of their vehicle range. The navigation system can show on a map the car’s range based on its current state of charge, and a color display on the instrument panel also shows the car’s range for both city and highway driving.

Scion bills the iQ EV as a "four-seater city commuter car." While it technically may have four seat cushions inside it, do not, under any circumstances, expect to fit four people inside the iQ. Because the front passenger seat is positioned farther forward than the driver’s seat, a third person fits behind the front passenger without much contortion or discomfort. But unless the person sitting behind the driver is Tiny Tim’s grandson, this is cargo space only.

Toyota says it will release details on when and where the iQ EV will be available in the coming weeks. While it’s always encouraging to see an automaker take steps in the development and promotion of alternative-fuel vehicles, it’s worth noting that Toyota had originally planned to sell the iQ EV to a much wider audience, but pulled back due to fears of low consumer demand. Thus, if the iQ EV sounds like your cup of tea, it looks like you’re going to have to share.

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