Scion’s first electric vehicle comes in the form of the iQ EV, which is set to make its U.S. debut in urban car sharing programs and on campuses everywhere. Well, not everywhere, as production will be limited to approximately 90 vehicles.
By the numbers, the Scion iQ EV is, as you’d expect, at the top and the bottom of the electric-vehicle segment. Only the smart fortwo Electric Drive may be anywhere near the Scion iQ EV’s 13.5-foot turning radius, but the Smart beats the Scion in overall range. The Scion iQ EV has a claimed 50-mile range with its 12 kWh battery, while the Smart Fortwo ED is said to have a 90-mile range.
Both small electric cars have a 78-mph top speed, though the Scion iQ EV takes 13.4 seconds to travel from 0-60 mph, up from the Smart’s time around 12 seconds. What the Smart Fortwo ED will never do is carry more than two people — as with the three-cylinder iQ, the iQ EV can carry four people in a pinch.
Toyota says some of the lessons it has learned thus far with hybrid and plug-in hybrid R&D have influenced the iQ EV’s development. The new Scion has regenerative braking and, to reduce the possibility of battery degradation, a timer that matches the charge completion time with the time the car will actually be driven. Three driving modes include the default D, S to quicken acceleration, and B to maximize the efficiency of the regenerative brakes.
“Up to now, cost and convenience issues have limited BEV’s appeal with a broad consumer market,” said Chris Hostetter, Toyota’s group vice president of strategic planning. “Toyota developed the iQ EV specifically … for use in an urban environment, where driving distances are likely to be short, charging opportunities numerous, and its compact proportions beneficial.”
Inside, the Scion iQ EV has heated front seats and a seven-inch screen with a navigation system as well as EV-specific info such as an available range map (to show how far the car can travel on its current charge) and energy flow information.
The Scion iQ EV will be available in silver and red, with contrasting black accents. A trapezoidal charging port lid takes the place of the regular Scion iQ’s small front grille. The rear fascia has been revised for the electric variant and, inside, the dark interior has white accents with blue-gray and white stitching.
No word on how much the EV’s compact lithium-ion battery impedes on passenger space but, considering the car’s 50-mile range, the Scion iQ EV won’t be used for any long road trips. Considering its ultra-small dimensions and three-hour charging time (at 240V), the Scion may be well-suited for urban car-sharing programs. As for a more mainstream Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV competitor under $50,000, for now, the closest Toyota has is the Prius PHEV.