Automotive

Toyota's minuscule electric city car prepares for 2020 debut

Toyota's minuscule electric ci...
Tiny, slow, affordable and practical: Toyota will release this ultra-compact electric car in Japan in 2020
Tiny, slow, affordable and practical: Toyota will release this ultra-compact electric car in Japan in 2020
View 3 Images
Toyota has also released plans for several "walking area" last-mile electric scooters, including one that clips onto a wheelchair
1/3
Toyota has also released plans for several "walking area" last-mile electric scooters, including one that clips onto a wheelchair
The tiny two-seat electric car offers a top speed of 60 km/h and a range of 100 km.
2/3
The tiny two-seat electric car offers a top speed of 60 km/h and a range of 100 km.
Tiny, slow, affordable and practical: Toyota will release this ultra-compact electric car in Japan in 2020
3/3
Tiny, slow, affordable and practical: Toyota will release this ultra-compact electric car in Japan in 2020

You reckon the Honda E is tiny? Toyota is preparing to go tinier – if not cuter – with today's announcement of a new "ultra-compact BEV" set for release in Japan in 2020.

Making no pretense of being anything but an ultra-efficient urban getabout, this tiny electric seats two, offers a round-town range of just 100 km (62 miles) per charge, and tops out at a backstreet-friendly 60 km/h (37 mph).

Toyota sees it as part of a solution for keeping the elderly mobile, as Japan looks down the barrel of a population crisis the likes of which no other country has faced. With no significant immigration, and plummeting birth rates, Japan already has the oldest population of any country in the world, with nearly 27 percent of the population aged over 65. It's getting worse; it's estimated that every worker will be supporting one retiree by 2070, whereas back in 1970 there were 12 workers for every retiree.

With Japanese workers stretched to their limits, there's little time to look after old folks, and a huge economic incentive to find technological solutions that can keep the old timers mobile, self-sufficient and happy while a dwindling number of youngsters keep the country running.

The tiny two-seat electric car offers a top speed of 60 km/h and a range of 100 km.
The tiny two-seat electric car offers a top speed of 60 km/h and a range of 100 km.

That's the ethos with this electric car: simple, zero-maintenance, slow, safe and easy. And it's designed to work in tandem with a bunch of other bits and pieces that are also going to be on show at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.

These include electric stand-up scooters, sit-down scooters and scooter-type front ends that connect to wheelchairs to give users slow-speed last-mile mobility in a similarly simple, fuss-free electric format.

Toyota has also released plans for several "walking area" last-mile electric scooters, including one that clips onto a wheelchair
Toyota has also released plans for several "walking area" last-mile electric scooters, including one that clips onto a wheelchair

None of this stuff is glamorous, but if it can help bring some self-determination and dignity into the lives of Japan's elderly – thus letting the younger folk keep their noses to the grindstone – then maybe it can help stave off an economic catastrophe.

Source: Toyota

6 comments
martinwinlow
I simply cannot understand why Mitsubishi is not doing more with its truly excellent small EV 4-seater, the iMiEV. It's been out since 2009 and is still my favourite car ever (in 45 years of car ownership) ... after the tesla, of course. They should be selling them in the 100's of thousands but seem totally disinterested, pushing instead the good but hardly environmentally friendly 'pretend' EV, the Outlander PiH. (Sigh).
guzmanchinky
In order for this to REALLY help the elderly, it needs to drive itself.
Vernon Miles Kerr
During my first trip to Japan I got to ride up front in the bus between Narita Airport and Tokyo. For 50 miles I was going crazy taking pictures of all the tiny Toyotas and Nissans that don't exist in the US. The poor people driving them probably thought "Why is that Gai Jin taking pictures of us?" There are some streets in Kawasaki and Tokyo that are so narrow, only cars as tiny as the new Toyota can fit through. As a matter of fact, some little delivery vans and pickups are only as wide as the driver's seat. :)
ReservoirPup
@martinwinlow - it's all about money ....
Koolski2
I don't know why all of these cars have such lackluster top ends. This would be a great option for US cities except the fact that 37 mph would get you blown off the road! And would be a safety issue at that low speed.
Tom Lee Mullins
I believe the US does not care for small cars. Fiat is dropping the two door 500 in the USA. Mini is dropping the two door Cooper in the USA. Smart will no longer sell the Fortwo in the USA; not even the ED version. Americans is not big on small cars.