Toyota Confirms Limited Production of Electric RAV4 and Scion iQ in 2012
Toyota's chief executive in the US confirmed last week that electric versions of the Scion iQ and the Toyota RAV4 will enter the production cycle in 2012. The two electric vehicles have been promised for a couple of years, so hitting the delivery dates on time is good news. The bad news is how tentative the production numbers will be.
Toyota Motor Sales president and chief operating officer, Jim Lentz, told reporters at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show that both the electric iQ minicar and the battery-powered RAV4 SUV will be small-scale production vehicles and used to "gauge consumer preferences, usage patterns and daily requirements." In other words, Toyota will continue to sit on the sidelines and study EVs, while Nissan (and others) aim for the biggest possible volume for its electric vehicles.
Also speaking at the 2012 Detroit show last week, Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor chief executive officer, announced the automaker's 2012 US sales target for the Nissan LEAF: 20,000 units. Ghosn told reporters that he expects LEAF sales to more than double in 2012, compared to the 9,674 LEAFs sold in the US in 2011. Nissan's electric hatchback initially launched in seven US states. That number now stands at 30-plus states, and will be nationwide by summer 2012. By the end of this year, Nissan will move some of its global LEAF production to Smyrna, Tenn.
Toyota's Lentz said the electrified Scion iQ will have a range of 50 miles or less, and that the minicar will be a fleet-only vehicle. It's expected that most of the 100 or so Scion iQ EVs will be sold to car-sharing programs in urban areas in the US.
Lentz also confirmed that the Toyota RAV4 EV will have a range that exceeds 100 miles. It will become the only all-electric SUV available in the US when it hits dealerships, mainly in California, later this year.
According to Lentz, gauging consumer preferences means that Toyota will "test" both electrified vehicles for three years, at which point the automaker will determine whether or not the technology is ready for mass production.
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