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The vehicle uses lithium ion batteries and features a relatively short 56-mile range. The vehicle itself is very producible recycling Toyota systems, but the interior, pictured here, is rather outlandish.

The vehicle uses lithium ion batteries and features a relatively short 56-mile range. The vehicle itself is very producible recycling Toyota systems, but the interior, pictured here, is rather outlandish.
Toyota may opt not be the only major automaker left out of the electric vehicle market

Throughout much of the Nineties and early part of this decade, hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells were billed ad the future of vehicle propulsion.  However, over the past couple years hydrogen plans have been going quickly from solid state to vaporous form.  With Obama flatly refusing to fund hydrogen vehicle research and instead focusing government resources of electric vehicles, and with the Germans favoring electric (in addition to clean diesel), the Japanese automakers who invested so much in bringing a vision of clean hydrogen vehicles to market are left with a major decision.

Just this week, Honda's CEO indicating his company might shelve hydrogen plans and turn to electric vehicles in the near term.  He cited frustrations with deploying a fueling infrastructure in the U.S. as a major cause for considering turning away from hydrogen.

Now Toyota has debuted a new prototype, raising questions about whether it may be pondering an electric leap of its own.  The new prototype is dubbed the FT-EVII (FT = "Future Tech") and made a star appearance at the 2009 Tokyo Auto Show.

More rounded and bulbous than Honda's electric vehicle prototype, the FT-EVII is built largely from existing Toyota technologies, including the iQ platform and components from its Synergy hybrid system.  The iQ is a platform of small, fuel-efficient gas and diesel vehicles sold in Japan and the U.K.  No iQs are sold in the U.S although Toyota is rumored to be bringing the gasoline version here under the Scion nameplate.

Despite trashing lithium ion batteries in a recent interview, Toyota's EV relies on them as an integral component of the powertrain.  Toyota still uses nickel-metal-hydride power pack designs in most of its hybrids, including the Toyota Prius.

An interesting thing to note about the FT-EVII is that it has a range of 56 miles -- less than the soon to be released Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMiev all-electrics, which have a range of 100+ miles.  This will likely limit potential sales to urban drivers.  Toyota is reportedly sticking with shorter ranges for potential commercial deployment.  This might not be entirely bad, as the vehicles would still appeal to a massive populations living in the world's large cities, such as Tokyo, London, and New York.

While most of the vehicle's mechanics are very feasible, and actually close to being a producible design, the vehicle features an outlandish control yoke and interior design.  The vehicle also features sliding doors, another unusual feature.

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Bumper cars...
By ChristopherO on 10/22/2009 4:58:19 PM , Rating: 3
Wow, that thing looks like a dodgem car from when I went to the fair as a kid...

I wonder how many drivers will be killed behind the wheel of those things because everyone else thinks they're deliberately supposed to run into them. "Hey, they'll just bounce off! Woohoo!"

All they need is the little antenna coming off the back that's supposed to connect to the electrified cieling.

RE: Bumper cars...
By carniver on 10/22/2009 5:32:58 PM , Rating: 3
The conceptual "steering wheel" looks like a surgical apparatus used by doctors in a hospital or something, I myself won't feel comfortable driving in a car that looks like it's going to open me up!

RE: Bumper cars...
By ChristopherO on 10/22/2009 5:57:45 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, they decided to save money on the airbag. Instead of including the needed hardware, they have a little chime that goes off when you're required to manually inflate a latex balloon and place it between you and the steering column (you've got a tenth of a second, blow fast!).

RE: Bumper cars...
By geddarkstorm on 10/23/2009 2:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
Has an odd sorta steampunk feel to me, hehe.

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