Toyota of Japan is betting that the future is wholly or partly electric, and unveiled some current and concept contenders at the Detroit Auto Show today.
Toyota took the wraps off the Prius C, a smaller, cheaper version of the highly successful pioneering hybrid, announced that its Scion subsidiary will launch an all-electric, short range version of the little IQ city car, then showed its vision of the future with the NS4 concept vehicle, penciled in for launch in 2015.
Toyota has already announced that it will launch a plug in version of its Prius early this year. The smaller Prius – C for city, is priced at under $19,000 and Toyota claims it will return 53 mpg city.
Jim Lentz, President & COO, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. said conventional hybrids are the foundation and necessary first step in advancing unconventional technologies with mainstream buyers.
“Toyota believes that a wide variety of technology options must be developed. This portfolio approach is driven by the notion that hydrogen fuel cells might be the right answer in one region of the world while battery-electrics or natural gas might be best in another. The necessary first step is to get consumers to literally buy-into the plan in sustainable volume,” Lentz said.
Lentz said the Prius C features a 1.5-liter gas engine… and a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery for a total hybrid system output of 99 hp. The C’s body structure uses lightweight, high-strength steel to help reduce vehicle mass and improve fuel economy.
“The Prius C is sized, priced, styled, and packaged to appeal to young buyers on a budget who until now have probably found the hybrid experience out of reach,” he said.
Lentz said the Scion iQ EV will have a range of less than 50 miles and is aimed specifically at short-distance urban car-sharing programs. The upcoming electric RAV4 EV, with a Tesla powertrain will offer a driving range of well over 100 mile between charges.
The NS4 concept has a solar panel roof that extends into the rear hatch. Conventional mirrors have been replaced with cameras.
Lentz said the automobile is being re-invented and Toyota wants to lead the way.