NAIAS 2009: Tokyo Rock City

At the start of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, Toyota tossed what they thought- what should have been- a proverbial boulder on the year's biggest Auto show, but somewhere amidst the fog of war and the flotsam and jetsam of the Big Three’s weary and depleted showcasing, Toyota’s big rock almost went unnoticed.

The projectile was the Toyota FT-EV, a 2-door electric vehicle that bears a striking resemblance to the Toyota iQ (not a very familiar car to those of us Stateside), and why not: The iQ was a supernova on the Japanese car constellation in 2008 (for more on the iQ, read this 2007 Toyota press release ).

But the FT-EV is a fantastical leap: This 2+2 concept hatchback has a 50 mile (80 km) all-electric range and the kind of shrug-your-shoulders design that straddles the line between the everyday-ordinary compact car and the super-fugly NEV eyesore that I can’t feature on this site without tasting a little hot vomit in my throat.

Fortunately, she vastly favors the former.

The FT-EV might be the near future of electric vehicles. It should have sparked some internal combustion in the hearts of the Big Three Stooges because it is short on flash, potentially short on cash (critics estimate a $20,000 sticker price, but that’s based on the cost of today’s technology) and long on practicality.

Toyota’s 3rd Generation Prius continues the car maker’s trailblazing tradition in the way of functional hybrids, and the FT-EV has the potential to do the same for all-electric vehicles. Granted Toyota was shy on details, but production could begin in a couple years.

Maybe by then Extended-Range Electric Vehicles like the Chevy Volt will appeal to the same people who can also afford them, but when you start to think of EVs that feature affordability and mass appeal, remember the old saying:

What rules the world is not the hand that rocks the cradle, but the hand the cradles the rock.

Right now, that's Toyota.

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