Last week Toyota announced that they have decided to scale back the distribution plans of their all-electric vehicle (EV), the eQ. Initially slated to sell several thousand of the vehicles per year, Toyota will only sell “about 100 battery-powered eQ vehicles in the United States and Japan in an extremely limited release.”
Toyota’s vice chairman and the engineer who oversees vehicle development, Takeshi Uchiyamada, told reporters that 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.”
Wait a second…society’s needs? Electric vehicles might not be as profitable a business venture for Toyota in the current economic state because of the costs associated with them; however, they are certainly capable of meeting (and exceeding) society’s needs, and are in fact a growing necessity for replacing traditional combustion engine-driven vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly 60% of work trips are 10 miles or less; the average work trip being 13.9 miles. Considering the fact that the Toyota eQ will have a top speed of 77 mph and a driving range of about 62 miles per charge, it is certainly more than up to the task. Of course, at this stage in the game an EV is not going to be as practical for long journeys; however, this one issue with EV’s on a large scale can be rectified with two things: public support and time.
The technology is there, it’s just the consumer “range anxiety” that needs to be assuaged. In an earlier post I mentioned that the company Better Place addressed this concern with their battery swap stations; “Essentially, you can be on your way with a fresh, fully-charged battery in the same time it would take to fill up a conventional automobile with gasoline.” Currently Better Place has stations set up throughout central and northern Israel, which can be replicated throughout the U.S. (and already is in certain states) as a wide scale public works project. Sure, it would take time, money, and A LOT of public and legislative support; however, the ends would certainly justify the means, creating a clean, independent energy grid that eliminates the need for any oil (foreign or domestic), strengthens the infrastructure of our country, and…oh, takes care of any “range anxiety.”