This is the Toyota iQ EV, which as its name suggests, is an electric powered version of the little iQ. Yet another EV to join the wave? There’s a different plot to this story – while the iQ EV is complete and ready for production, Toyota isn’t a full believer of EVs as this stage and will make only 100 units of the car for Japan and USA.

“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,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s vice chairman and the engineer who spearheaded development of the Prius in the 1990s.

The original plan was to sell few thousand of these per year. “Two years later, there are many difficulties,” Uchiyamada conceded.

Unlike big EV punter Renault-Nissan, the Japanese giant believes that the auto world is still in the “transition” stage, and will be well-served by hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Toyota said on Monday that its target is to have 21 hybrid models in its line-up by 2015, 14 of which will be all-new.

Even the car itself is a little different. Instead of stuffing in a big battery, power efficiency was the key development goal, focusing on a combination of lightweight design and the lowest possible power consumption from the lowest practical battery capacity.

In an electric car, the air con system takes up a big chunk of battery power. To counteract this, the Toyota iQ EV features a low power consumption heat pump AC system, allied to seat heater fitted as standard to directly warm occupants, and a new Heated Windscreen Defroster (HWD) system to clear the screen without the aid of the AC.

A lower battery capacity translates into a shorter charging time. Not only can the iQ EV be fully recharged in around just three hours, but via Fast Charging, 80% capacity can be refilled in only 15 minutes.

The iQ EV’s fully electric powertrain comprises an air-cooled, 47 kW electric motor/generator; a 150 cell, 12.0 kWh, 277.5 V battery pack; a 3 kW water-cooled battery charger, an inverter, DC/DC converter and a motor speed reduction mechanism.

The motor, planetary gear speed reduction mechanism and torque biasing differential are all housed in a new, ultra-compact, EV-exclusive transaxle, which combines a low centre of gravity with reduced energy losses to minimise power consumption.

Maximum torque of 163 Nm is delivered from a standstill to the front wheels, giving the iQ EV 0-100 km/h acceleration of 14 seconds and a maximum speed of 125 km/h. With power consumption of 134 Wh/km, the car has an NEDC-certified range of 85 km between charges.