Toyota unveils vision for electrified compact (very compact) personal mobility

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TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. will unveil its vision for electrified personal mobility at this month’s Tokyo Motor Show with a lineup of compact battery-powered runabouts.

And compact is the operative word. The vehicles range in size from a two-seat minicar that goes on sale next year in Japan to a three-wheeled electric scooter.

The minicar, which Toyota calls a production-ready ultracompact BEV, is designed for short daily trips by drivers such as the elderly, drivers who are newly licensed or salespeople doing the rounds around town, the company said in a Thursday press release.

It has a fully charged range of 62 miles and a top speed of 37 mph.

“We want to create a mobility solution that can support Japan’s aging society and provide freedom of movement to people at all stages of life,” head of development Akihiro Yanaka said in a statement. “We are proud to offer customers a vehicle that not only allows for greater autonomy, but also requires less space, creates less noise and limits environmental impact.”

The minicar and other personal mobility gadgetry, such as the scooter and an electric wheelchair tug, are part of Toyota’s efforts to create a wider business model for battery-powered transportation that includes leasing, used sales, service and recycling.

The goal is to promote wider use and bring down costs.

Toyota said it is working with dozens of corporate and government sponsors to explore new transportation business models. For starters, visitors to the show will have an opportunity to give some of the new offerings test rides.

Aside from the narrow two-seat mini EV, Toyota is rolling out a wider, boxier version for business use. The idea is a minicar that can serve as a rolling office — a place to work, eat, sleep and, yes, drive to your destination. It also is designed for short, regular commutes.

Rounding out the lineup is a seated-type scooter, a standing-type scooter and a wheelchair link that connects to manual wheelchairs and pulls them along with an electric motor.

The standing-type scooter, which will have a range of about nine miles, will be released in 2020. The two other personal mobility devices arrive in 2021.

Media days for the Tokyo show are Oct. 23-24.

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