Toyota has been a pioneer in the mass electrification of automobiles, but they’ve so far avoided battery-only power, preferring to focus on combustion-electric hybrids like the now ubiquitous Prius, or very niche hydrogen fuel cell tech like the Mirai. It looks like they’re finally ready to dive into the battery electric pool, though, based on the size of their production-ready BEV, it’s the kiddie pool.
The car Toyota will show at the Tokyo Motor Show is an interesting, very small two seater with a silhouette sort of like a Smart Car and the boring and hopefully placeholder name of Ultra-Compact BEV. Damn, Toyota, you sure know how to make a boy feel all tingly with that name.
To be fair, the target market of this small EV is not one that desires such tingles. From Toyota’s press release:
The ultra-compact, two-seater BEV is specifically designed to meet the daily mobility needs of customers who make regular, short-distance trips such as the elderly, newly licensed drivers, or business-people visiting local customers. It can be driven a range of approximately 100 km on a single charge, reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h, and features an extremely short turning radius.
Honestly, it’s refreshing to see a car with such straightforward and practical goals, a tool to solve mobility problems for large groups of people who don’t need to hear bullshit about what kind of shark inspired the rear fenders or the word “dynamism” used eight times per paragraph.
The specs for the car are modest, but likely good enough for its intended job. A range of 60 miles is good enough for most in-city use, and with a top speed of only around 38 mph, in-city is where this will stay.
Design-wise, the Ultra-Compact BEV looks modern and sleek, but maybe more like one of those fancy LG washer/dryers than a car. It’s not particularly friendly looking, with some attempt to make the front end a touch stern looking with those long, wide band of lights, and a practical cooling intake panel below, which has all the sleekness of an HVAC unit.
It’s not bad, though, and it looks like the interior volume is pretty well maximized. I also like the DeLorean-style inset opening window, which I imagine implies this has a pretty good AC system.
The black car next to it is a concept-only “Concept Model for business” which I imagine means a sort of commercial in-city BEV.
I actually much prefer the boxier design of this one, and it even has some novel flexible-use interior ideas:
Still, that’s not the one slated for production. The two-seat passenger BEV is, and Toyota says to expect it around winter of 2020. I doubt this will end up in the U.S., and is more likely a China/Japan release.
No pricing information has been released yet, either. I hope they pick a better name.