Want a 2012 Toyota Rav4 2012 Scion IQ EV? You Won’t Be Able To Buy One (UPDATE)

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2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Prototype

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV Prototype

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[Since this story was published, we've had a comment from Cindy Knight, Toyota Public Affairs Manager confirming that Toyota will be making the 2012 Toyota RAV4EV available for private purchase. Instead, Autoblog is reporting that it is the Scion iQ EV which will not be available to purchase. We thank Toyota for this clarification.]

Its one of the most eagerly anticipated plug-in vehicles to join the market in the next year or so, but the reintroduced Toyota RAV4EV won’t be available to buy, says Geri Yoza,  Toyota’s National Business Planning Manager of Advanced Vehicle Marketing.

Instead, the electric SUV will be available to fleets and car sharing programs rather than individual customers. 

Designed by Toyota and given an all-electric drivetrain by electric automaker Tesla Motors, many fans had hoped the 2012 RAV4 EV would pick up where the legendary 1997-2003 Toyota RAV4 EV left off. 

Still considered by some electric vehicle fans as the one of the best electric cars ever made, the original RAV4 EV featured a top speed of around 78 miles per hour and a range of between 100 and 120 miles per charge. 

The original RAV4 EV was leased by government agencies, fleets and private customers with some lucky customers being able to buy them at the end of their leases. Many of those cars are still working today, years later. 

The rest? Returned to Toyota at the end of their lease and crushed. We’re pretty sure you’ve heard the story.

But with only leasing and large fleets being targeted, will the 2012 Toyota RAV4EV have a similar fate to its predecessor? 

We really hope not. Instead, we’re hoping Toyota’s plan to offer the RAV4 EV to a limited base is something that will change as the car becomes more popular in coming years. 

Since Toyota is the only major automaker planning a plugin crossover SUV for the 2012 model year, we think it would be a big mistake if the RAV4 EV remained exclusive to such a small segment of the market. 

History repeating, or an insurance against a platform Toyota still doesn’t trust? Let us know in the Comments below. 

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Comments (26)
  1. Fine by me. I wouldn't think of trading for my Volt anyway. #1756

  2. Why don't the electric vehicles just now coming to market have much greater range than the ones from 15 years ago - despite advances in battery technology?

  3. They are focusing on getting cost and weight down, not greater range. That will come later.

  4. Because auto companies don't want to make EVs, that's why. In 1990, the Solectria Sunrise demonstrated 220 miles range; later in the 1990's, 330 miles range. The NiMH EV1 had up to 160 miles range, would be over 200 miles range if the best NiMH were used.

  5. Even the lead-acid 1999 EV1 using PSB batteries had over 100 miles range, more than the LEAF.

  6. I agree, it's rather weird that EV-1 owners had no trouble getting 150+ miles from their supposedly now obsolete NiMH batteries all those years ago (see for instance this owner testimonial: http://www.kingoftheroad.net/charge_across_america/charge_html/nimh_test2.html) while one would struggle to squeeze 90 miles out of a Nissan Leaf.

  7. Well, we can consistently get 100 miles on our LEAF (we have #989) but it requires driving in ECO mode and not going faster than 60 mph. Typically, for example, we drive 72 miles to Carlsbad and have purportedly 25 to 28 miles left (two red bars). When we make the same trip in the RAV4-EV, we have more than 30 miles left and don't have to keep it at 55.

  8. Wasn't it an associated company of GM that bought the patents and then filed them away?

  9. There are more comments in this thread
  10. It just makes good business sense to introduce a new product to a limited market that will be easier to control and service. Hopefully they will gain confidence quickly and expand their marketing.

  11. Good article. The 1997 RAV4-EV was offered for sale to the general public for 6 or 8 months in 2002, with almost no publicity; in Nov., 2002, Toyota reached an agreement with Chevron's unit Chevron-Ovonics-Battery-Systems (cobasys) so that cobasys would drop its lawsuit if Toyota would stop using NiMH batteries in plug-in cars. This agreement is apparently still in force, until 2015, which is why no plug-ins using NiMH are allowed, and inferior Lithium must be used. Lithium may be proven, some day, but our NiMH 2002 is still running over 100 miles on a charge (150 in a pinch) after 109,000 miles. NO Lithium EV is guaranteed to do as well.
    BTW, chevron bought the patent rights from GM on Oct. 10, 2000, gm handed control to parent chevron.

  12. NiMH is mostly considered obsolete these days, so your statement that lithium is inferior is...interesting. Now I'm not saying you are wrong here, after all there has to be a reason that Chevron is still controlling the patent (Samsung-Bosch appears to be just the new front man), but what exactly do you reckon is it about NiMH that worries Big Oil so much?

  13. They used patents to stop NiMH, but can't or won't use patent law to stop Lithium. Frankly, ANY chemistry will work, if we want it to! The cost of batteries can be lowered by a recycling program (like lead); buy up old batteries and reprocess to make new batteries. All the alloys are in the metals, no new metals needed (in general). That's the way the cost of iron and copper was lowered; use the "urban mine" of scrap metals. So if Nissan reprocesses the Lithium after, say, 80K miles when they wear out, making new batteries from old, they are buying old batteries below the cost of the metal. Japan used this technique to lower the cost of steel with their electric mini-mills.

  14. cobasys disgorged to Samsung/Bosch SOME of the rights (actually, they don't own the patents, just the exclusive worldwide LICENSING rights) because of the Daimler lawsuit (claiming that cobasys would not even deliver NiMH for hybrids that don't plug in). So Samsung-Bosch got control for hybrids that don't plug in, which still leaves us with chevron's control of plug-ins.

  15. Well, it's seems obvious from a marketing and profit standpoint, based upon the anemic sales of the Volt and the Leaf, Toyota has no good economic reason for
    building the Rav4 E. And it's not as though they haven't done it before. I'm not sure they would fare much better now than they did back then, when they lost a bundle. Those who bought the Rav4 Electrics didn't even pay the cost of the NiMH battery packs - which were available from their service department for $37,000. You heard right, $37,000. No automaker is going to get rich building EVs. Too few will sell and the high cost of the battery packs will squeeze margins. The EV business is a business waiting for a practical battery to come along.

  16. Actually, you are misinformed, or just plain wrong. The cost to Toyota of the NiMH battery packs was $11,000 and Toyota never sold them without the car -- nor were any sold to drivers. Currently, new/used RAV4-EV NiMH packs (pre-Chevron-lawsuit) are available at a total cost (tow the car to Sacramento, replace the pack, and tow it back to L.A.) of $10K to $15K. Meaning, the cost of each module (there are 24 in the RAV4-EV) is no more than $500 each RETAIL. The value of the Nickel in scrap modules is about $30, so there's a lot of room to lower costs if they went into full production. The cost of the 1.3 kWh Prius pack retails at $3000 installed; but that is a power battery, takes a lot more work to build it (according to Toyota).

  17. Furthermore, the Leaf "sales" are really "deliveries"; there's still at least a 2-year waiting list. For example, Nissan of Santa Monica had SOLD more than 250 Leaf, but had only delivered about half that number. For many months, Nissan was not allowing people to sign up on the waiting list. Today, Nissan production of LEAF is a miracle, considering the devastation in Japan.

  18. Doug: the Leaf sales thing has been explained to Ramon Leigh before, but trolls cannot be convinced by reasonable arguments, they get their kick from the predictable negative attention pushing the right buttons gets them. The only way to deal with trolls is to completely ignore them.

  19. Nissan Leaf is leading the way with very strong sales!
    you are so wrong.

  20. Come on Toyota, give us what we really want!

  21. Who killed the electric car?

  22. Our 2002 RAV4-EV has over 64,000 miles and we're still getting 100+ miles of range at highway speeds. NiMH batteries are awesome. If Chevron won't allow the technology to be used, I think the federal government should declare eminent domain on the NiMH battery technology as a matter of national security.

  23. I think your speculation at the end of the article is probably right. They are bringing this to market on an unusually fast schedule and my guess is the conservative folks at Toyota still view it as an in-market test of the Tesla approach to battery technology. They've been burned so much recently I imagine they are even more risk averse than usual. Putting the cars in the hands of fleets gets them the ZEV credits they need for compliance with CARB regs anyway.

  24. That's a good theory, but if they are afraid of real customers why would they offer them to car-sharing programs?

    I'm afraid it's just another automaker trying to look like they are entering the EV market much faster than they really are.

    It's good news for me as we have the EVs we need to satisfy our driving needs and the longer it takes for an automaker to come out with a real successor, the more value our RAV4-EV has.

  25. RAV4 EV *will* most certainly be sold to the general public, not just fleets and car share companies. Pike Research has corrected its story and Autoblog has also set the record straight. Please update this site so consumers will better understand their future vehicle choices. Thank you, Cindy Knight, Toyota Public Affairs Manager.

  26. Really screwed this one up - Toyota reiterated today that it will be selling the Rav4 to consumers.

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