Why is it that automakers often produce their most outlandish products strictly for their home markets? From the Volkswagen Golf Country to the Nissan S-Cargo, the most unorthodox vehicles in history rarely fall terribly far from home base. Here’s another: This is the Toyota C+Pod, a pint-sized EV that’s indisputably the weirdest car Toyota makes right now.
Yes, the bZ4X isn’t the only electric vehicle Toyota makes right now. In Japan, the brand has carved out a niche of green mobility solutions like a couple of three-wheeled electric scooters and this tiny electric car. The C+Pod is the only Japanese-made kei car since the Subaru R1 to not use up every millimeter of the kei car size boundaries, and it shows. At 98 inches long and 50 inches wide, the C+Pod has a smaller footprint than an original smart city coupe from 25 years ago. However, it’s also 61 inches tall, meaning it shouldn’t be as cramped as its footprint suggests.
Upon first glance, the Toyota C+Pod is downright cute. Sure, it may wear a scowl, but it’s so small that its anger is adorable, like a pissed-off hedgehog or a grumpy rabbit. Its wide eyes come straight out of a past future, while its clear tail light elements are a dose of tuner nostalgia. From the door handles to the wheel arches, squircles abound, and the two-tone color scheme is decidedly funky. You could tell people that the C+Pod is a concept car from any point in the last 25 years and people would believe you, a whimsical feat if ever I’ve seen one.
On the inside, the Toyota C+Pod is lavishly appointed for a vehicle of this segment. I’m talking a full dashboard, full door cards, typical car seats, airbags, and a litany of buttons that do things. None of that sounds terribly impressive, but it’s far more conventional than what you’d get in, say, a Citroen Ami. Step on up to the G trim level and you’ll be in the lap of luxury with dashboard HVAC vents, heated seats, and hubcaps. Alright, so it does feel a bit like we’ve stepped back to 2002, but for the segment the C+Pod occupies, that’s perfectly fine.
Judging by the spec sheet, the C+Pod is unlikely to thrill with a top speed of 37 mph and a range of 93 miles. Those figures don’t sound terribly impressive until you learn that the C+Pod uses a tiny nine-kWh battery pack and cranks out just 13 horsepower. You can build two C+Pod battery packs using the same resources it takes to build one battery pack for the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid crossover, or to use an extreme case, 22.77 C+Pod battery packs out of the same resources required to build one GMC Hummer EV battery pack. At this point, 93 miles of range seems like an absolute miracle. Oh, and guess what? This little EV supports vehicle-to-load power, functioning as a 1,500-watt generator during power cuts.
If there’s any downside to the Toyota C+Pod, it’s cost. This thing carries a starting price tag of 1,665,000, or about $11,504 at the time of writing. While comparable to many golf carts, it’s hard to imagine many North American buyers craving one when a used Nissan Leaf costs about the same and is highway-capable. However, if you think of the C+Pod as a home battery bank you can drive, it makes a whole lot more sense. Here’s something that takes up just a couple more square feet than a full-sized mattress, can power your home in an emergency, and can get you to the shops and back. It even has a decent cargo area accessible by lifting the hatch. Come to think of it, I wonder if this thing will fit in the back of a long bed truck with the tailgate down? Now that would be a weird two-car solution.
(Photo credits: Toyota)
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