Toyota may still lack a flagship battery-electric vehicle, but the company has been actively flirting with the idea of hyper compact, urban EVs for some time now. Most of these have taken the form of concepts shown off in Toyota’s home market that rarely move beyond the auto show floor, but one pitch is finally reaching the production stage. Well, sort of.
It’s called the C+Pod, and it’s a development of the Ultra-Compact BEV prototype Toyota brought to the Tokyo Motor Show last year. The C+Pod is truly tiny, measuring 98 inches long and 51 inches wide. For perspective, that’s 8 inches shorter and 14 inches narrower than a Smart Fortwo.
Toyota’s little EV also has slightly more than a tenth of the power of the Fortwo, with just 12 horsepower and 41 lb-ft (56 Newton-meters) of torque. That’s good for a top speed of 37 mph, while the 9 kWh battery pack should deliver a maximum range of 150 kilometers, or 93 miles, by Toyota’s estimation.
With figures like that, the C+Pod is clearly only intended for short, slow-speed journeys. While Toyota hasn’t revealed where the C+Pod will arrive outside Japan, it has outlined that the car won’t be available to consumers immediately. Rather, it’ll be offered to corporations and the government starting this week, before sales to individuals start in 2022. Prices start at 1,650,000 yen, which translates to a shade under $16,000.
Toyota also plans to incorporate the C+Pod in its Toyota Share car-sharing service, with the idea that users will be able to rent one for “sightseeing and excursions.” Presumably, Toyota doesn’t envision these excursions reaching very far. Given that the cargo capacity seems to be limited to two totes, though, perhaps that’s for the best.
Still, the C+Pod looks like a delightful, utilitarian tiny EV to run about with for perhaps a couple of hours, even it’s not immediately as fun-looking as the three-wheeled Toyota i-Road. The C+Pod is cute and inviting, with a two-tone color motif that breathes an air of levity into the otherwise dull prospect of a slow urban EV.
That two-tone theme continues inside, where the center of the dash is finished in a color contrasting the predominantly black interior. Toyota offers a range of playful finishes for the C+Pod, including orange, cyan and white combined with a black roof and hood; the car can even be ordered entirely in black, with only the doors painted one of those colors.
Personally, I’ve never been one for exceedingly small, personal EVs, nor have I ever concluded that one would fit into my life in any appreciable way. Still, I like the idea of seeing lots of little C+Pods buzzing about city centers, even if I wouldn’t necessarily want to be stuck behind one.