The Toyota RAV4-EV, and Tesla, on the John Batchelor radio show

The Toyota RAV4-EV, the only all electric SUV

Toyota stole the show at the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, CA when they unveiled the only all-electric SUV, the Toyota RAV4-EV.
This is more like a major refresh, since Toyota sold RAV4-EVs from 1997-2003, the same time they were selling the Prius. Nine years after the first generation RAV4-EV, the second generation will arrive in showrooms by the third quarter of 2012.

There’s a hefty price tag on the battery powered SUV that, according to Toyota, will have a six-hour charge time, 100 mile top speed and a 100-mile driving distance. The price will be just as exclusive, a whooping $49,800. Compare that to a 2012 Toyota RAV-4 internal combustion engine for $22,650 that gets 22 city/28 highway miles per gallon. It’s an exclusive buy; Toyota will only sell 2,600 Toyota RAV4-Evs in three years and only in four locations – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. Toyota will use a Tesla battery. Tesla will be bringing out it’s own SUV in 2013, codenamed Tesla X.

One could also compare it to the Chevy Volt range extender, which starts at $39,145, or the, Nissan Leaf full electric $35,200, or the Ford Focus full-electric at $39,200,  or the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid at $32,000, or the Tesla Model S at $57,400.

By email, I asked Bob Carter why so few vehicles, why so much money? Carter answered, Toyota is aware of the challenges facing mainstream acceptance of battery electric vehicles. Thats why our approach will be measured and focused.

When The RAV4 EV hit’s showrooms in late summer, it will initially beoffered in four major Californiametro markets “ Sacramento, Bay Area, LA & Orange County and San Diego “through a select numberof dealers. We plan to build about 2600 vehicles over the next three years.

We believe this measured introduction will allow us to:

1) efficiently meet the demands of the market,

2) support the California ZEV mandate requirements and

3) continue to educate the general public about our portfolio of advanced technologies.

Honestly, Lou Ann, we simply don’t know what to expect from themarket…which currently shows no signs of exuberance after a year and halfof Volt and Leaf.  We have to start somewhere.  And this is a start.

Toyota has started coming back from earthquake, tsunami, Thailand floods. Part of the success is the Toyota Pri, the whole family of Prius’. The Toyota Prius has doubled the level of sales from a year ago, and is about 55 percent ahead of last year’s pace.

The Toyota Prius sales of 86,000 Prius has helped the EV and hybrid sales for the first quarter of 2012 come up to 3.3 percent of the total car sales in the United States.

Compare that to the Nissan Leaf:

There were 9,674 Nissan leafs sold in 2011

There were 379 Nissan leafs sold in April, 2012

For all of 2012 so far there were 2,012 sold.

Since the LEAF first became available in the US, end of  2010, to today Nissan has sold 11,820 LEAFs in the US.

Compare that to the Chevy Volt:

There were 7,671 Chevy Volt sold in 2011

There were 1,462 Chevy Volt sold in April, 2012

For all of 2012, so far, there were 5,337 Chevy Volt sold.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.