Toyota drops plan for widespread sales of electric car
By Yoko Kubota
Reuters – Mon, Sep 24, 2012 6:09 AM EDT
Toyota, which had already taken a more conservative view of the market for battery-powered cars than rivals General Motors Co and Nissan Motor Co, said it would only sell about 100 battery-powered eQ vehicles in the United States and Japan in an extremely limited release.
The automaker had announced plans to sell several thousand of the vehicles per year when it unveiled the eQ as an pure-electric variant of its iQ minicar in 2010.
“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,” said, Uchiyamada, who spearheaded Toyota’s development of the Prius hybrid in the 1990s.
Pure electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, carry only lithium-ion batteries. Consumer demand for the vehicles has been capped by their limited range and the relatively high cost of the powerful batteries they require.
A broad industry consensus sees plug-in cars accounting for only a single-digit percentage of total global sales over the next decade. Nissan remains more bullish, forecasting that by 2020 one-tenth of all cars sold will be electric.
Globally, Nissan has sold about 38,000 Leaf electric cars since the vehicle’s launch at the end of 2010.
I think people in in the White House were wincing when they heard this news! Like it or hate it, Toyota has made itself the gold standard for design capability in the gas-hybrid-electric power train continuum. Toyota is saying that the state of battery technology is not capable of a car that has the capacity, range and cost most people (worldwide, not just the US!) want and for which they are willing to pay. Nissan is bolder, but they aren’t betting a significant corner of their farm on electric cars. For a bit of numerical context, the Leaf is selling on the order of 20K-20K per year; GM ceased producing the Chevy Avalanche because it only sold 24K per year. I wonder whether the Leaf is being produced at a profit, or even at the break-even point.