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Toyota RAV4 EV: Electric Toyota SUV not for sale

Tue, 19 Jul 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Toyota RAV4 EV - Not for Sale

Note: Update to this story at the end.

When we reported back in 2010 that there were plans afoot for an electric Toyota RAV4 (and a Lexus RX EV too, for that matter) it made sense.

Toyota had just spent £35 million on a pile of Tesla shares, and done a deal for Tesla to use an old Toyota plant in Fremont which was about fifty times the size Tesla could ever need. So electric versions of Toyota’s range of cars seemed a sensible route for the hybrid-obsessed car maker to go.

Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time Toyota has had a bash at building an electric RAV4. Back in the 1990s, when California was pushing for a zero emissions (at point of use) policy for cars, Toyota bit the bullet early on and produced – in limited numbers – a RAV4 with a  nickel-metal hydride battery pack and a range of around 100 miles.

That RAV4 EV sold in quite small numbers – and some even ended up as hire cars at LAX – but the run was short-lived and had virtually no publicity outside California.

This time the RAV4 EV got far more publicity, including the now de rigueur tease in the run up to a reveal, and a reveal in the full glare of the publicity spotlight at the Los Angeles Motor Show in 2010.

But this wasn’t a full production plan, and with Toyota saying that the Tesla-powered RAV4 would be built in very small numbers, just 35 to be built in 2011, it was clear that this was just an exercise in ‘What can we do with a RAV4 EV’ rather than a headlong dive in to an EV joint venture with Tesla.

So the news today that the new Toyota RAV4 EV won’t be for sale is hardly a surprise. After all, with just 35 cars planned to be built, how on earth could Toyota even begin to offer the RAV4 EV for sale?

Toyota’s National Business Planning Manager in the US has gone on record as saying that the RAV4 EV will be focused on “very strategic applications”, which we take to mean that they will just be letting the RAV4 EV out to a handful of fleet and business operators. An evaluation project, it would seem.

It would also appear that the idea of Toyota running out a range of BEV EVs of every model in its range, all powered by Tesla and built in the Fremont plant, is a very long way away.

If, indeed, it ever happens at all.

Update: Looks like this has all changed.

We reported the original statement made by Toyota man Geri Yoza saying the public won’t be able to buy the RAV4 EV. That tied in with Toyota’s original statement when they revealed the project last year, when they stated they would only be building 35 electric RAV4s.

But in response to this story about the RAV4 EV not being sold to the public, Toyota has issued a statement:

Recent reports have incorrectly stated that the 2012 RAV4 EV will only be marketed to fleet and car sharing programs. We’d like to set the record straight. The 2012 RAV4 EV will definitely be sold to the general public. We anticipate robust public interest in the RAV4 EV and are keen to inform consumers that their future vehicle options include a battery electric Toyota.

So maybe, after all, our original theory that Toyota will use Tesla and the old Fremont Facility to churn out BEV versions of the Toyota range could turn out to be right.

We’ll keep you posted.

 

Source: Reuters


By Cars UK