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Toyota plans dialed-back launch of eQ and iQ EV city cars in December

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Toyota's just-arrived RAV4 EV will soon get a much smaller cousin -- albeit a very elusive one. An electric version of the iQ city car will arrive in Japan (as the eQ) and the US (as the iQ EV) this December, but the automaker is significantly scaling back its 2010 promises of several thousand cars sold per year to just 100 fleet-oriented vehicles. The charging times, costs and range of EVs "do not meet society's needs," vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada says to explain the smaller ambitions. It's easy to understand the cautious approach after seeing the car's final details. While they're not out of line with the specs of other EVs, the eQ's 3-hour fast charge, 62-mile range and ¥3.6 million ($46,130) price wouldn't have regular customers flocking to dealerships. Most of Toyota's energy is instead being funneled into its tried-and-true hybrids, with 21 due on the market by 2015, as well as plans to deliver the company's first hydrogen fuel cell car by the same year. Eco-conscious drivers may be disappointed that Toyota isn't moving as aggressively into a pure electric realm as some of its rivals, but we'd rather see smartly planned baby steps than an overly risky plunge.

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