No Learning Curve Required with the Toyota’s Smallest Electric Car

Scion IQ EV Side ViewGet in, buckle up, push the start button, put it in forward, push the right pedal, and go.  Driving the new Toyota Scion IQ EV the day before the official press release was a real treat, not an October Halloween promotion trick.  Feeling like a good dance shoe or ski boot, quick, positive, solid, no sloppy or delayed response in steering, acceleration, and braking, the IQ acted like an expensive sports car in the downtown Denver afternoon traffic. Watching for other vehicles, I could see all the way around, not having to guess or take second looks at a blind spot.  Sensing I was in a heavy smooth suspension, I was surprised by the short turn radius.  The battery weight under the floor had to be helping the low center of gravity with no lean while turning around on a dime in the width of a driveway.  Parking was easy, but I had to see the pictures to realize how short this car is.

The forward drive mode choices are D, S, and B, techy short cuts for Default, Sport, and Braking, Default for economy, Braking for the heaviest electromagnetic braking regeneration, and Sport for just plain fun. During an aggressive 3 ½ mile demo ride we took at least 5 miles off the expected remaining range.  Toyota specifications say 7 seconds from 30 to 50 mph in Sport mode, but the more exciting spec would be the time from 0 to 30 mph with the near wheel spin torque and no hesitation.

The small IQ cockpit, like my ’70 Corvette, has within easy reach, all the controls and displays2013 iQ EV13 Behind Wheel of an advanced technology car. All the energy performance and range information was easy to see without being a distraction.  The dashboard instrument displays and the flat panel information console were recessed and nicely tilted to minimize sun glare. The seats are race-car molded comfortable with the forward-back and tilt controls on the outside exactly where my hand expected them to be.  I had to move the seat up for my 31 inch legs and 5’10” frame, leading me to believe that there was plenty of room for over 6 foot long-legged drivers. Reminding me of my ’78 Honda Accord, I love the cargo space in the rear where the back seats fold down and the hatchback goes all the way down to the floor having no threshold to clear for loading or unloading.  Unless the occupants have really short legs or you’re counting the two lap dogs in the rear, the IQ is not for more than two people plus luggage.

The Toyota efficiency number has the IQ at an incredible 167Wh/mile, projecting a 50 mile range for the 12kWh battery.  According to my numbers, that means the vehicle control unit is only allowing the use of 70% of the battery capacity, providing plenty of margin for a long battery life.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that I could ever get to the 50 mile range because the IQ is too much fun to drive.  If the 50 mile range seems short, remember that the average daily commute is less than 40 miles and charging at home saves miles and waiting time at the gas station.

car2go San DiegoToyota’s target application for the IQ seems to be car sharing, where, like the battery electric Smart Car used by Car2Go in San Diego, a 50 mile range is acceptable.  Doing a little walking and saving the taxi fare, I grabbed one of these for my ride home from the airport.  I appreciate the Car2Go sharing choice, but the electric Smart Car is like a golf cart on steroids while the IQ is a real advanced technology car offering transportation and more fun than a go kart. The safety features and comfort accessories take advantage of many years of Toyota development, putting the IQ at the head of its technology class. Before I ask my eight year old grandson, I still want to take a week long class on the operation of any of these new navigation displays and find a user’s group.

I did not drive the IQ at highway speeds where the short wheel base suggests less stability, but I would consider taking the car on a road trip if I could pull a battery trailer to increase the range.

In short, I want one.  However, while I contemplate the unknown price, alas, I have to accept that there are only 90 in existence and they are all spoken for, for now.  I wonder if Car2Go would add some IQs to their fleet for a premium ride?  Maybe I could move to a city that has these in their car share fleet.

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About Author: Tom Bartley

Tom Bartley is an expert about vehicles, drive systems, and energy storage. Tom Bartley has a BSEE and MSEE from Stanford University. He is a life member of the IEEE and a member of SAE. He is a director on the board of the San Diego Clean Fuel Coalition and is working with Transpower of the development of heavy-duty electric drive systems.

2 thoughts on “No Learning Curve Required with the Toyota’s Smallest Electric Car

  1. robert r
    January 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    So … where & how can we buy one ?
    Not at my dealer in Kansas City.

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