What& s the big deal about the Scion iQ EV? National Business …

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Scion iQ Electric Cars

What s the big deal about the Scion iQ EV?

October 21, 2013

Generally speaking, Toyota’s Scion marque has received enthusiastic consumer response and industry critique. The advanced technology, city-savvy handling, innovative design, and Generation Y appeal has rightly earned Scion’s buzz. Along with the famed FR-S car and several celebrated concept vehicles, the vehicle that has generated the most buzz for Scion’s lineup has been the iQ EV.

What makes the iQ EV special?

Simply put, the iQ EV is a fully electric vehicle that is compact, stylish, and perfect for city driving. The iQ vehicle the EV version is modeled after is classified as a supermini vehicle. The first iQ and was introduced to the US market in late 2011 and to the Canadian market the following year.

The iQ’s low fuel consumption, roomy interior, and eco-friendly operation helped generate considerable market interest. When a fully electric version was announced, enthusiastic customer response quickly followed.

Sounds great! Where can I get one?

Unfortunately, Toyota backed away from a widespread release of the iQ EV. Though this decision disappointed many consumers, Toyota’s decision has some logical basis. To start with, the infrastructure necessary to support a large number of fully electric vehicles currently only exists in a few specialized market areas.

Charging stations are not easy to find outside of certain large urban centers on the coasts. This limited infrastructure could lead to customer dissatisfaction since their vehicles would become difficult to own and operate. So while it is not currently possible to offer a full iQ EV and Scion tC comparison relevant to the general consumer, there is still a lot to make the iQ EV intriguing.

Fit for fleets

Thought the iQ EV is not sold directly to the public, it is for sale to colleges and car share programs to use as fleet vehicles. Currently there are only 100 iQ EV vehicles on the road – ninety in the United States and ten in Japan.

Using the iQ EV as a fleet vehicle does have a reasonable explanation. Fleet vehicles often receive more regular use and scheduled maintenance in keeping with the manufacturer’s recommendations; these city-friendly vehicles will be driven almost exclusively on maintained roads. Frequent charging, regular maintenance, and city-based use means that it is possible to study the iQ EV in a relatively controlled manner.

Toyota engineers can learn a lot from the way that these electric vehicles perform under ideal circumstances. This information can be used to improve the vehicles to accommodate a wider range of use circumstances. A more intuitive, user-friendly interface can be designed in response to the feedback given by these early adopters.

Designed for commuters

The iQ EV vehicles currently driven in the United States are found primarily in California. One fleet of thirty vehicles can be found operating in Irvine on the UC campus; these new vehicles started operation in March 2013. The Irvine fleet is called the Zero Emission Vehicle Network-Enabled Transport or ZEV-NET. For over ten years this vehicle network has helped commuters and students reach the campus and local businesses from the train station approximately one mile away.

The increased number of electric fleet vehicles reflects the growing need for transportation options for commuters in this busy community.

Given the on-going need of states to reduce vehicle emissions and of people to get where they are going, it seems inevitable that fully electric vehicles will eventually become commonplace on American roadways. Precisely when the iQ EV will be available to the general public is less clear. The future availability of this vehicle will probably largely depend on its performance in fleets.

So while the limited release of this vehicle may frustrate customers eager to embrace electric vehicle technology it is perhaps good to know that such vehicles will be better as a result of current on-going market research.

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