Scion iQ EV: Small EV to be sold in small quantities

Scion iQ EV front three-quarter viewThe Scion iQ started life overseas with a Toyota badge, so it’s fitting that Toyota is bringing its electric eQ to the United States as the Scion iQ EV. However, these pint-sized EVs will be a rare commodity: only 90 electric Scions will make it to the U.S.

Not that American EV buyers will be missing out on much. Like its gasoline-powered sibling, the iQ EV is a breeze to park, but it is also uncomfortably small. Still, Scion says the installation of a 12-kWh battery pack has not affected the iQ’s “3+1” seating layout, which allows four passengers to squeeze inside.

One thing the iQ EV does not need to apologize for is its regenerative braking system. Toyota applied its vast hybrid experience to developing brakes that charge on a timer, to prevent battery degradation. There are also three modes: default “D,” sportier “S,” and efficiency “B.”

The 47-kW electric motor can propel the Scion to 60 mph in 13.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 78 mph. Both are just barely adequate for highway driving, so the iQ EV will probably be most at home in slow city traffic. Range is 50 miles, so staying near populated areas might be a also be a good idea to avoid getting stranded. Charging from a 240v outlet takes three hours.

Toyota did, in fact, design the iQ EV for urban driving. “Toyota developed the iQ EV specifically as a city commuter, for use in an urban environment, where driving distances are likely to be short, charging opportunities numerous, and its compact proportions beneficial,” Chris Hostetter, Toyota group vice president of strategic planning, said in a statement.

To make sure the iQ EVs stay in their element, Scion will only sell them to fleet buyers, specifically urban car sharing programs and colleges or universities. Since only 90 iQ EVs will be built, they’ll certainly be among the rarest electric cars on the road.Scion iQ EV rear-three quarter view

Why only 90 cars? While the Scion iQ EV and Toyota eQ were being developed, Toyota had a change of heart and decided to to pursue a mass-market EV. The company feels these cars short ranges and long charging times mean they won’t be viable alternatives to conventional cars anytime soon.

“The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,” Toyota vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said at the launch of the eQ in September.

Instead, Toyota will push hybrids and keep electric car production limited to small batches of vehicles like the iQ EV and the recently-launched RAV4 EV. Luckily, at least when it comes to the Scion, consumers aren’t missing much.