At its annual U.S. national dealer meeting held in Las Vegas at the end of June, Toyota confirmed the launch dates for its Prius family are still on track despite complications arising following the disasters that hit Japan on March 11, saying production is expected to return to normal levels in Japan after July. The company also raised a few eyebrows with the announcement that the all-electric Scion iQ EV microcar that was on show in Geneva earlier this year is set to arrive in the U.S. sometime in 2012
Toyota confirmed the extended hatchback wagon Prius v is still on track to launch this fall in the U.S., while the Prius c compact is due to arrive in the spring of 2012. Meanwhile, 2012 will also see the launch of the Prius plug-in electric hybrid, the RAV4 EV and the Scion iQ EV.
The Scion iQ will be Toyota's first all-electric vehicle to hit the U.S. market, placing it in direct competition with Nissan's LEAF, which is already on sale, the Think City, which has been on sale since late 2010 - although Think Global recently filed bankruptcy for the fourth time in 20 years so the City's future is unclear - , and Mitsubishi's i-MIEV, which is set for a U.S. launch at the start of 2012.
With the LEAF claiming a range of 73 miles (117 km) using the U.S. test cycle, the Think City claiming 99 miles (159 km), and the i-MIEV claiming a range of 85 miles (137 km), the Scion iQ is bringing up the rear with an estimated range of 50 miles (80 km). While this is probably enough for a city runabout, which is the market the iQ is aimed at, the deciding factor for potential buyers will probably be the price tag, which is yet to be announced.
Toyota also announced it is researching bio-fuels and next-generation materials to make lighter, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles, and that it is aiming to have a fuel cell vehicle on the road by 2015. It also said its new Entune multimedia system that is compatible with "virtually every smart phone" will debut this fall in the new Prius v and Camry.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning