Revamped iQ interior also planned

Toyota's iQ-based electric car, due to be launched in 2010, will get its own body style to create a stand-alone model which will become Toyota’s first all-electric car.

Internally called the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle), the new car will not occupy the same market sector as the iQ and will “get its own bodywork”, according to the iQ’s chief engineer, Hiroki Nakajima. “We wanted to position the iQ as premium,” he said, “but not so the BEV.”

See the Toyota iQ FT-EV picture gallery

The electric iQ will use in-wheel motors and was designed with this in mind. “In every wheel we had to be able to fit an electric motor,” said Nakajima.

The car will also become the first mass-production Toyota to use lithium ion batteries, following the firm’s trial of the technology on plug-in Priuses later this year. Charging time will be around eight hours.

“Our target is for customers to be able to charge it completely during the night,” said Nakajima. He also said the car will have a range of 150km (93 miles).

Meanwhile, the iQ is set to get an upgraded cabin to counter criticism over the quality of its materials. “The iQ will get a much better interior,” said Nakajima. “A lot of buyers think it is much too plasticky.”

The firm is also planning to introduce customisation packages for the iQ in the style of the Fiat 500 and Mini. Nakajima declined to give dates for the changes, but they could coincide with a mid-life facelift due around 2011.

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