Toyota FT-EV concept – Click above for high-res image gallery
Toyota officials confirmed this evening that come calendar year 2012, at least three new environmentally friendly cars will be going into production, starting with a version of last year's FT-EV concept that will hit the streets as a battery electric vehicle based on the Scion iQ. This car will use a battery consisting of the large format lithium ion ion cells being developed by Primearth (formerly Panasonic EV Energy) and not a Tesla-style battery. If a joint project with Tesla yields a product, it will be a new car and likely wouldn't arrive until 2015.
Also joining the regular production stream in 2012 will be the Prius plug-in hybrid. A test fleet of those vehicles is already being deployed and consumers will soon be able to monitor the progress of those vehicles on Toyota.com/ESQ. Toyota has equipped the test fleet with the capability to stream real-time data about the vehicles including usage patterns and fuel efficiency. The data is being used by the engineers at the head office in Toyota City as they prepare for the production version, but a portion of it will soon be posted publicly on the site.
The idea is to let consumers see the mileage the vehicles are getting in different usage patterns to help them determine if a PHEV is the right vehicle choice for them. Toyota is concerned that the price premium for plug-in vehicles will mean that only people whose lifestyle would bring out the best in the technology should be using them. Others may be better with a BEV, hybrid or even a conventional powertrain.
Lastly, 2012 will finally see the long-rumored expansion of the Prius moniker into a family of vehicles. Toyota would not confirm what body styles would be coming, although both a coupe and a MPV-style people-mover have been rumored in the past.