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Toyota iQ is Smart Move in Microcar Stakes

Peter Lyon takes the iQ for two-hour test drive and comes away believing it will send far reaching ripples of change from Detroit to Frankfurt.

Published: 09-Sep-2008

As a reporter who covers motor shows in Paris, Geneva and Frankfurt, I get to chat with a lot of European car engineers, designers and journalists. And I'm sorry to say but, no folks, they are not all in a lather about skyrocketing oil prices. Global warming's No. 1 cause, rising carbon dioxide levels, is the issue on everyone's lips and the one being addressed on every manufacturer's stand.

A look at cars displayed by Toyota, Mercedes-Benz or General Motors, for example, shows that making smaller cars in response to high gasoline prices is a secondary priority for carmakers. More importantly, if next-generation cars don't meet the common cultural desire to drastically reduce CO2 emissions and, in the process, clean up the planet, makers might as well pack up and go home; buyers will ignore them and the media will question their civic resolve — if they don't just relegate stories on said vehicles to the briefs.

The focus of research and development for cars of the future spans a number of alternative energies, such as electric, hybrid (cars with both a gasoline engine and an electric motor), fuel-cell (cars that use hydrogen and an electric motor) and biofuel. All have one thing in common: They are part of the search for the Holy Grail of the car industry — a viable replacement for engines powered by fossil fuels.

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