Toyota officially confirms 2012 launch of electric Scion iQ

  • Introduction
    • Image Credit: Toyota


    Scion launched a new vehicle recently the New York Auto Show, giving Toyota more arrows in its small-car quiver as it attempts to hold onto its theoretical title of America's greenest carmaker. The tiny little city car is positioned as a premium micro-subcompact for "new urbanites." It's bigger than the famous Smart ForTwo, but it also adds an extra 2 seats. Will it work here?
  • 4 Seats, Sort Of
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    4 Seats, Sort Of

    The iQ will be the smallest 4-seater sold in America, but the company is playing fast and loose with the number 4. Here's how they come to their conclusion: The front seats are slightly offset, leaving room for one adult in the back as well as space for a child, pet, small package or scale model of an actual 4-seater. The front seats are incredibly thin, too, so those rear passengers can maximize their legroom. The rear seats split in half and fold flat as well. Even though we can't imagine the owner who would do this, Toyota says the rear cargo area achieves the all-American checkmark of accommodating a golf bag with the seats folded flat.
  • How Big Is It?
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    How Big Is It?

    Let's compare this new iQ to the Smart ForTwo, currently the shortest mass production car sold in America. The Smart is 106.1 inches long, 61.4 inches wide and 60.7 inches tall. The iQ is slightly longer at 120 inches long, slightly wider at 66.1 inches across, but shorter at 59.1 inches tall. It's almost as if someone pushed their thumb down on top of the smart, squishing it in all directions and dropping in two extra seats in the process.

    Whether or not iQs will be able to slot into parking slots perpendicular to the sidewalk (as the Smart ForTwo does) remains to be seen, but it's unlikely. The iQ is more than a foot longer than the Smart and would likely stick out too far.
  • Fuel Economy Expected To Be Good, Not Great
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    Fuel Economy Expected To Be Good, Not Great

    With a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine and a low curb weight (U.S. spec curb weight isn't available, but the Toyota iQ sold in Europe weighs in at 1,896 lbs, or about 90 lbs more than the Smart ForTwo sold here), our partners at Autoblog speculate that fuel economy will be "in the high 30s, which is reasonable but far from overwhelming for such a small package." 30 MPG driving just isn't as impressive for a small car these days when a vehicle like the Ford Mustang can hit 31 MPG on the freeway (to its credit, the Smart ForTwo squeezes out 33 city and 41 highway from its 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder engine).

    Fuel capacity is 8 gallons on the European iQ models (again, no word yet from Scion on the capacity of the U.S. fuel tank), so a total range could be as high as 300 miles but as low as 200 miles with aggressive city driving (which is the type of driving Scion is expecting for most iQ buyers). Until we know specific numbers from Scion, we'll hold out hope these numbers will be higher.
  • It's Small, But Aggressive
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    It's Small, But Aggressive

    Where the Smart ForTwo went for cute and child-like in its design direction, the Scion iQ takes another tact altogether. The high beltline wraps around the car and into a very aggressive, angry-looking set of front headlights. The front fascia is cut with all manner of (mostly non-functional) intake openings, giving the appearance of a fire-breathing car that needs all the air it can get. Out back, the smoked rear lenses seem to melt into the sickle-shaped rear quarter glass. Wheels are pushed to the corners, like the Smart (where else are they going to go on a car this small?), but the openings are blistered and sculpted to look wide and muscular. It is a car with a Napoleon complex.
  • Packed With Features
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    Packed With Features

    Scion is calling the iQ "premium," giving notice that the vehicle won't simply be a cheap city car and nothing else. In keeping with the Scion brand, the audio system is significantly better than what you'd find in comparable vehicles. The iQ will come standard with a six-speaker system, USB and iPod ports and steering-wheel audio controls. The car is also packed with safety features, including 10 airbags (among them: a rear-window curtain airbag and a driver seat-cushion airbag), anti-lock brakes and stability control.
  • Popular around the world...but here?
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    Popular around the world...but here?

    If you've spent any time outside of the U.S. you may have already seen the squat little hatchback. Toyota launched the iQ back in 2008 and sales started in Japan and the United Kingdom shortly thereafter. The European versions get north of 50 MPG, but that figure comes from the diesel model (which Americans will not be able to buy, at least for now).
  • It's Also...An Aston Martin?
    • Image Credit: Aston Martin

    It's Also...An Aston Martin?

    It might be hard to believe but Scion is calling this car a premium micro-subcompact. Americans seem to have a tough time accepting that luxury comes in different sizes, but Europeans sure don't. In fact, a version of the Scion iQ will soon be sold as an Aston Martin. The famous British sports car brand entered into a partnership with Toyota to make a car called the Cygnet, based on the iQ platform. The ultra-exclusive city car will only be sold to current Aston Martin buyers, limited to just 1000 or 2000 cars in the initial production run. Prices for the Cygnet haven't been released, but since you have to own a current Aston to qualify, the total out-of-pocket costs might be somewhere in the neighborhood of an entire lot full of Scion iQs.
  • Is America Ready For Another (Really) Small Car?
    • Image Credit: Toyota

    Is America Ready For Another (Really) Small Car?

    I remember driving home though suburban Detroit one night in a new Smart ForTwo when a passenger in an old Ford F-100 leaned out the window and asked me if (okay, he basically told me) I was a Shriner. I didn't dignify him with a response. There are still plenty of places in America where the size of your car is seen as an extension of your standing in the world.

    How will this new Scion fare? It's difficult to speculate as the company hasn't released pricing as of yet (the on-sale date is still unknown as well, although expect it to sell at some point this year). Our only guess is that given Scion's larger dealer network, the iQ will sell more than Smart sells of its ForTwo (only about 15,000 cars in all of 2009). If gas prices spike, Scion has another small, 30+ MPG vehicle that might tempt buyers.
Scion iQ - Click above for high-res image gallery

During a recent dealer meeting held by Toyota in Las Vegas, the Japanese automaker reconfirmed that the launch of the Prius V is still on track for this fall, that the Prius C will be headed our way in early 2012 and that the electric RAV4, along with the plug-in Prius, are coming sometime next year, as well.

But it was Toyota's confirmation that the electric Scion iQ will hit U.S. dealerships in 2012 that caught us by surprise. Why's that? Prior to this announcement, Toyota had not officially committed to a launch date for the electrified iQ. Now, it seems, the all-electric Scion iQ will be America-bound in less than 18 month's time.

Toyota's electrified minicar, with its estimated range of 50 miles, will face fierce competition from vehicles like the 73-mile rated Nissan Leaf, 85-mile "best case range scenario" Mitsubishi i, and, if Think Global survives bankruptcy, its 100-mile rated City electric. With electric vehicles already having been condemned for not hitting advertised range ratings, one has to wonder if Scion's electric will be a success in the States. Of course, the battery-powered Scion iQ's MSRP has yet to be announced and the vehicle's price is sure to influence potential buyers one way or the other.
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Toyota Confirms Highlights of Annual National Dealer Meeting

LAS VEGAS, NV (June 29, 2011) -- Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. confirmed that its annual national dealer meeting took place here today. The private meeting was attended by representatives from Toyota's 1,233 U.S. dealers. Speakers included Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) President Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMA) President and COO Yoshi Inaba, TMS President and COO Jim Lentz, TMS Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations Don Esmond, Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter and Vice President-Scion Jack Hollis.

Mr. Toyoda acknowledged the tremendous disaster that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 and thanked dealers for their extraordinary support and donations. Together, Toyota dealers and friends have contributed $11.5 million to Japan disaster relief.

Mr. Toyoda emphasized his focus on product and the company's core philosophies that will make Toyota better than ever. Other themes from his speech included:

The all-new 2012 Camry and Camry Hybrid. Designed to meet the changing needs of the 21st Century driver, the new Camry will provide technologically advanced features, a contemporary design inside and out, improved performance and refined ride and handling.

Future vision of mobility. New technology offerings like the all-new RAV4 EV and telematics advancements stemming from the Microsoft alliance will help make Toyota's vehicles even better.

Greater regional autonomy. Calling it his "most important goal," Mr. Toyoda stated he will empower those with local knowledge to make their own decisions.

Looking forward, Mr. Toyoda said the company is more committed and more passionate than ever about being a leader in the automotive industry, adding, "We must earn it with our actions and with our words, with great products and great service and with genuine affection for our customers and our communities."

Highlights from other executive speeches included:

Recovery from the disaster has far exceeded expectations. In Japan, production is expected to return to normal levels after July. In North America, eight locally-built models, including Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, Sequoia, Sienna and Venza returned to 100 percent production in early June. The remaining four North-American built models, including Tundra, Tacoma, RAV4 and Lexus RX, will return to 100 percent beginning in September.

Prius family launch remains on track. Prius dominates the hybrid market with over 50% market share. With the launch of Prius family, Toyota is capitalizing on that brand strength and providing all the benefits of Prius in a variety of vehicles. Prius v, which arrives this fall, has SUV like cargo capability, nearly 60% more than the current Prius, but still is expected to deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 42 mpg combined. The Prius c compact, arriving in the spring of 2012, offers expressive styling in a city-friendly vehicle that we believe will be the most fuel efficient hybrid in the U.S.

Advanced technology vehicles. New, advanced vehicles arriving in 2012 include the Prius plug-in hybrid, RAV4 EV and Scion iQ EV. Toyota has committed to putting a fuel cell vehicle on the road by 2015, and is researching bio-fuels and next-generation materials to help make vehicles that will be lighter, safe and more fuel-efficient.

Investment in North America. Our new plant in Mississippi opening this fall will build 150,000 Corollas per year, create 2,000 jobs and represents Toyota's faith in the North American market.

State-of-the-art multimedia. Toyota's new Entune system, which will feature simple, seamless functionality and is compatible with virtually every smart phone, will debut this fall in the new Prius v and Camry.

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers. Toyota directly employs more than 34,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 1.76 million vehicles in 2010.

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