Toyota: New RAV4 EV Is Most Practical, Versatile and Convenient EV

By · August 06, 2012

Toyota RAV4 EV

With an estimated 103 miles of real-world range, the Toyota RAV4 EV provides more range than the competition.

"It's the most practical, versatile and convenient electric vehicle on the market," said Bill Fay, group vice president of US Toyota-brand sales. Fay is referring to the RAV4 EV, which starts to arrive at dealerships in California in approximately one month.

Of course, the question is not how practical and convenient the RAV4 EV is compared to other electric vehicles. Yes, the vehicle's 41.8-kWh battery pack provides a few dozen more miles than the LEAF, Focus Electric, Fit EV—with their packs in the low to mid-20-kWh range. And as an SUV instead of a small hatchback, it's a more versatile vehicle for carrying people and stuff. But the attribute and comparison left out of Fay's statement is affordability compared to the gas-powered version of the RAV4.

Pricing for the four-cylinder front-wheel-drive gas-powered RAV4 begins at $22,650 and tops out at $27,250. Meanwhile, the pre-incentive price tag for the RAV4 EV is $49,800—which drops to just below $40,000 after federal and California incentives. As amazing as the RAV4 EV's powertrain might be, and as efficient as that powertrain is at delivering an expected range of 113 miles or more, the gap in price is significant. And the range on the gas version is up to four times as far as the electric version.

EV fans and advocates recognize that this gas-to-EV comparison only goes so far—because electric vehicle technology has not reached economies of scale. And its benefits in terms of smooth rapid acceleration, and environmental gains, put EVs in an entirely different category. But that argument has proven difficult to make to mainstream cost-conscious buyers.

Toyota expects the RAV4 EV to be officially rated by the EPA at 103 miles of electric-only range. But the automaker says that with a standard charge, the electric SUV goes 92 miles and the extended charge option boosts range to 113. The standard charge doesn't fill the battery pack to its capacity, and therefore extends its life. The EPA has not issued finalized ratings for the RAV4 EV.

Toyota admits that it doesn't know how big the market it is for a pure EV SUV that sells for nearly $50,000 before incentives. The company plans to make and sell 2,600 units by the end of 2014.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.