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.
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.
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
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
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.