The Toyota C+pod is a tiny EV facing a huge challenge

Toyota promised a tiny, all-electric city car and it delivered, with the C+pod ultra-compact battery electric vehicle delivering a Smart-esque two seater take on the EV as the automaker faces a significant upheaval in its home country. Leaked last week, the new two-door is a Japan-only addition to Toyota's electrified line-up, though initially sales will be limited.

In 2021, it'll be offering the C+pod to corporate users, local governments, and other similar organizations. Powered by a 9.06 kWh lithium-ion battery under the cabin, Toyota says it should do about 93 miles on a charge, according to the WLTC test cycle. A recharge could take between 5 and 16 hours, depending on the sort of outlet it's plugged into.

Clearly, with a single electric motor at the rear and a limited top speed of around 37 mph, this isn't going to be the EV to take on land speed records. Nonetheless, it does have some key advantages. A turning radius of under 13 feet, along with a width of less than 51 inches, should make it usable even in the tightest spaces.

You could also think of it as a portable power supply. There's an outlet down in the passenger footwell as standard, and an optional vehicle power connector which plugs into the charging port behind the Toyota badge on the C+pod's nose for plugging in appliances or other external devices. It's rated for up to 1,500 W, and Toyota says that – with a typical 400 W per hour draw – the EV's battery should last for about 10 hours.

LED lighting front and rear is standard, while the body panels are a Smart-like plastic construction to make replacing them easier and also cut down on weight. Toyota will offer a number of two- and three-tone designs, though sadly nothing as dramatic as the 2017 Concept i-RIDE. Inside, simplicity carries over. The two-tone cabin clusters all the controls in the center stack, with a speed and charge display mounted at the top.

Toyota's pre-collision safety system is included, with the ability to spot other vehicles and pedestrians during the day and night, and cyclists during the day. Parking sensors can help bring the C+pod to a halt should an obstacle be detected during low-speed maneuvers.

As for pricing, the C+pod will start at 1,650,000 yen ($15,600), with the final tally depending on options. Toyota is also offering a subscription charging service with blanket access to both public chargers and locations at its own dealerships.

Broader availability will begin in 2022, the automaker promises, with the C+pod offered to individual owners at that point. At the same time, Toyota says it's still exploring other types of EVs, including its oddball i-ROAD tilting trike and motorized individual scooters.

It comes as the Japanese government commits to cutting gasoline vehicles altogether within the next 15 years or so, a decision that's widely being seen as a blow to Toyota's vision of electrification. The automaker has been gung-ho on hybrid cars, pairing gas engines with electric drivetrains, and championed the concept with the Prius. Fully-electric vehicles, in contrast, are conspicuous by their rarity in Toyota's line-up.