With new battery technology and a fresh ground-up design the radical FT-EV II concept car from the Tokyo motor show is a vision of tomorrow’s electric car.
The 2009 Tokyo motor show has shed more light on Toyota’s electric future with the unveiling of the FT-EV II concept car that highlights the flexibility of electric vehicle design.
The FT-EV II is an evolution of the original FT-EV concept and gives a glimpse of how an electric-powered city car of the future could look.
Smaller than any Toyota on the market – it’s even smaller than the diminutive iQ hatch that’s on sale overseas – the FT-EV II can accommodate four (friendly) people in a three-plus-one layout; like the iQ, the fourth seat can accommodate a child or luggage.
Sliding side doors allow easy access and make it easier to get in or out in tight car parks.
The electric motor can travel around 90km at up to 100km/h, making it most useful in the city.
Rather than a conventional steering wheel, Toyota has fitted the FT-EV II with joystick like controls more reminiscent of some aircraft.
Key to the FT-EV II’s space efficiency is careful placement of the battery and electric motor, freeing up space at the front of the car.
Toyota has also paid attention to improving vision with a large windscreen and airy cabin feel.
Even the LED tail lights form part of the rear vision, allowing the driver to see through them when reversing.
Toyota says the FT-EV II assumes that battery technology will advance significantly beyond the current lithium-ion batteries that are finding their way in to electric cars and hybrids and will be used in an electric car to be sold initially in the United States from 2012.
“We are looking ahead of the lithium-ion battery,” said Akihiro Yanaka, Toyota’s project manager for advanced vehicles.
“This vision [the FT-EV II] is a little bit further out in to the future. It assumes more developed forms of batteries, so that’s why it’s more compact and smaller (than other electric cars, including the original FT-EV)”
As part of the push for improved efficiency Yanaka said Toyota is working on improving the efficiency of all ancillary items, such as air-conditioning, with the view to reducing the load on the power source.
“We are trying to have a more effective way of creating comfort. You don’t have to heat up or cool down the entire compartment, but if the person’s body can be heated then that is sufficient.”