The E200, which replaced the older Baojun E100, is a two-seat, fully electric runabout designed for the congested streets of busy Chinese cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou. Despite its compact size, it actually boasts fairly decent range for an EV, with its lithium-ion battery pack providing an estimated driving range of 270 kilometers (167 miles) on a single charge, as per the NEDC test cycle.
Now Toyota has debuted what is essentially its own version of the Baojun E200 just ahead of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show. The Japanese brand’s two-seat city car is simply being referred to as the Toyota City EV and is set to go on sale in Japan before the end of 2020. The City EV doesn’t have as much range as the E200, with Toyota’s estimates placing its maximum range at around 100 kilometers, or 62 miles. The E200 is also quite a bit faster, with the Baojun topping out at 100 km/h (62 mph) and the City EV maxing out at 60 km/h (37 mph). These metrics aren’t super important for a city car, however. Mobility solutions like these are essentially intended to serve as an alternative to a bike or a scooter and aren’t true replacements for an actual car. Toyota also didn’t want to make the City EV too fast or powerful as it will also be marketed toward the elderly and beginner drivers, its press release indicates.
Toyota has another idea for inter-city transport as well, in the way of a business-focused City EV. This is the black vehicle in the photo embedded above and as you can likely tell, it’s a bit bigger than the standard City EV. The interior is modular and can be configured in different ways depending on the user’s needs. Described as a “mobile office,” it features a workspace with a foldout tray table and can be reconfigured for travelling to different areas for business purposes or for relaxing when off the job. The business City EV is pictured next to the Toyota i-Road, which is a single-seat, blade glider-type vehicle that Toyota introduced in 2013. It’s essentially a more comfortable alternative to a motorcycle and is also intended as a short-distance mobility solution.
In a statement, Toyota said it wanted “to create a mobility solution that can support Japan’s aging society and provide freedom of movement to people at all stages of life” with its City EV family. “With the Ultra-compact BEV, 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.”
We certainly wouldn’t expect Toyota nor GM to begin offering vehicles of this sort in North America—though we could see the Baojun E200 and the Toyota City EV catching on in certain European markets.