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Toyota pulls the plug on volume electric model

by Drew Johnson

Toyota says it has dropped plans for a new compact electric vehicle.

Just days before the company's planned unveiling of the iQ EV at the Paris Motor Show, Toyota says it has scrapped plans for the widespread rollout of a compact electric vehicle. Toyota cited lack of market demand for its decision.

Just two years ago Toyota announced plans to sell thousands of units of a pure electric version of the iQ city car, but heavily revised those plans on Monday. Toyota says there simply isn't enough demand to support a second electric vehicle in its lineup.

"Two years later, there are many difficulties," Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's vice chairman and the engineer who oversees vehicle development, told Reuters.

He added: "The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

As such, Toyota's electric vehicle plans will rest solely on the RAV4 EV.

With EVs scratched of its 'to-do' list for the time being, Toyota will throw its efforts behind gas-electric vehicle development. Already a leader in the hybrid vehicle segment, the Japanese automaker is planning to expand its hybrid vehicle count to 21 by 2015. Of those 21 vehicles, 14 will be all new.

Toyota has seen limited success with plug-in electric vehicles, but the automaker says it remains committed to the technology.

"We believe that there is social demand for the plug-in hybrid, but our efforts to let the customers know what it is have not been enough," Uchiyamada said.

So far this year Toyota has sold 8,400 units of its Prius plug-in in Japan, well off the automaker's original estimate of 35,000 to 40,000 units.

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