Fans of those near-future sci-fi movies where all that seems different is that cars are controlled by joysticks instead of steering wheels will want to look out for a new electric car from Toyota offering that very experience right now.

Admittedly, the FT-EV II is still a prototype, but one of them is available to gawk at in the flesh at the ongoing Tokyo Motor Show 2009 in Japan.

The tiny battery-powered car is intended for short commuter hops, rather than long-distance driving. It's essentially a showcase for how compact a car can be made by taking out traditional mechanisms, such as steering columns, and relying on drive-by-wire and joysticks.

Four onboard

Because there are no foot pedals, the driver and passenger seats are much closer to the front of the car than in a conventional vehicle, leaving room for two more seats in the rear of what is really a very small car.

And, in a nod to the one-size-fits-all approach we might see in future cars, the FT-EV II has a joystick on both sides of the dashboard, meaning it can operate as either a left- or right-hand drive vehicle.

Via InfoWorld