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The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf initiated a whole new movement in the auto industry. With the realization that an all-electric vehicle can be useful in everyday driving situations thanks to a large battery and more efficient fast charging technology, automakers are hopping on the electric vehicle bandwagon.
“Overall automakers want to be prepared,” says Devin Lindsay, an automotive powertrain analyst from IHS Automotive. “EVs are another tool for automakers to reach out to consumers” he says, mentioning that automakers are taking EVs seriously, rather than just putting a bunch of batteries and motors in an existing product.
It’s interesting to see how automakers make electric cars from the ground up to use only electric propulsion. For example Tesla and Cadillac are all making vehicles that will exclusively be used with an electric powertrain. Others are modifying their current successful vehicles to EVs. Lets take a look at the different EVs that will be arriving soon (or are already here), and learn a bit about the new technology behind it.
Proof that Toyota is serious about launching its own electric car is the FT-EV III Concept, unveiled today at the Tokyo Motor Show. The third in a string of such concepts this will be the last, as the near-production vehicle shows. A telltale sign of the vehicle’s roadworthiness is an interior not unlike that of a production model, sporting design cues from other Toyota products, while adding unique EV touches.
Using a lithium-ion battery pack mounted below the floor and with an electric motor, Toyota claims a total driving range of 65 miles with room for four. Toyota refers to the FT-EV III (Future Toyota – Electric Vehicle III) as a “near future” concept and we expect to see a production version, branded as a Scion iQ EV sold in the U.S. next year.
GALLERY: Toyota FT-EV III Concept
Essentially a rebadged and restyled version of the Toyota iQ that’s been on sale in Europe and Japan for several years, when the Scion model does arrive it will get a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder making 99-hp.
Toyota has already announced plans to test an iQ EV in Europe and the Scion model is expected to use the same lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor with a targeted 65 mile range. Placing the batteries low in the floor of the car it should deliver a lower center of gravity and promises to maintain the cars 3+1 seating arrangement.
Also in 2012 Toyota will launch a second EV, based on the RAV4 and using battery technology from Tesla.
And while 2012 will be an important year for Toyota’s electric car efforts, the Prius will continue to be the focus of the brand’s green efforts with the launch of the Prius PHEV, with an emissions-free 12-mile electric range before switching over to act like a conventional hybrid.
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The leader in hybrid technology, Toyota will make a big push into further electrifying its fleet when it begins retails sales of the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, as well as two fully electric vehicles, next year. Toyota has confirmed that along with the Prius PHEV, it will begin selling an electric version of the RAV4 compact crossover, as well as a fully-electric version of the Scion iQ mini-car.
Toyota has partnered with Tesla Motors and displayed the RAV4 EV Demonstration Vehicle at the LA Auto Show last year, using the start-up American electric car company’s battery technology. The vehicle weights 220-lbs more than the standard model, but has acceleration on-par with its gasoline counterpart and manages to retain all of the 74 cu-ft of cargo room. Toyota is targeting a 100 mile range.
The second full-EV to hit dealers will be an electric version of the Scion iQ, with a gasoline-powered version arriving later this year. Using lithium-ion batteries under the floor it will retain the 3+1 passenger layout and improve the car’s center of gravity. Toyota is targeting a 65 mile range for this vehicle, designed for inter-city use.
Before those, however, Toyota will take its next step in developing the Prius, releasing the Prius PHEV. With a lithium-ion battery pack it will deliver 12 miles of emissions-free driving before operating more like a conventional hybrid. It isn’t expected to get nearly the same efficiency as the Chevy Volt, but will be priced just slightly higher than the conventional Prius, making it a higher-volume, more mainstream model.