2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012
Latest to join the party is Toyota. While the company has been slow to get behind electric cars with any real force, a new no-interest finance package and half-price lease deal should help boost demand for its RAV4 EV electric crossover.
You read that correctly--The Detroit News reports that Toyota has halved the cost of leasing its electric RAV4, now $299 per month rather than $599 per month, over the same three-year term.
The cost of buying a RAV4 EV has come down too. While it costs the same hefty $49,800 sum as it did last year at launch, but the old 1.9% APR finance package has now become a zero-interest finance deal over a 60-month term.
Both offers apply through September 3 and each is available only in the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions, the RAV4 EV's two main markets. Both deals should help boost relatively slow sales of the vehicle, which has shifted only 709 units through July, since it went on sale last September.
Toyota aims to sell 2,600 by the end of 2014. That's a fair way to go, but if the new buying and leasing deals grab customers like Honda's recent Fit EV deals--which went from a trickle of sales to high demand and waiting lists--Toyota should have no problem moving a significant number of vehicles.
"The use of our incentives is tactical, reinforcing our value and focus on keeping our products competitive in the market," explained Carly Schaffner, a Toyota spokeswoman.
While Toyota sells the RAV4 EV and has invested in Tesla Motors--its original $50 million now worth $476 million thanks to Tesla's surging sales--the Japanese automaker has been slow to get behind pure battery electric vehicles. Its low-range Scion iQ EV has been limited to campus and car-sharing schemes only, and the company has said it won't sell any more electric vehicles in Europe until electricity production is made cleaner.
Last week, we suggested that Toyota's leadership with hybrids could be what blinds it to electric cars.
Whatever the causes, many buyers denied the electric RAV4 by price alone may now find it affordable--and it could be just what Toyota needs to spur demand for its electric vehicles.