Toyota Confirms Limited Production of Electric RAV4 and Scion iQ in 2012

By · January 16, 2012

Toyota RAV4 EV

The electric Toyota RAV4 EV will launch, on a limited basis, in late 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.

Scion iQ electric

The fleet-only Scion iQ electric will be sold mainly to car-sharing firms in major 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.


· · 6 years ago

Perhaps if they really need driver utilization data they could just survey the last batch of RAV4 EV buyers...

· · 6 years ago

Shouldn't the headline actually read, "Toyota Announces Strategy to Check CARB Box, Sees No Future in BEV and Hands Nissan Four Year Head Start".

· Tom K (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'm very disappointed in Toyota. It's clear Toyota has no interest in pure EVs right now. I imagine, when they realize they're at the back of the pack when EVs really take off, they'll just buy up other EV companies (Tesla?)

· NISSANMASTTECH (not verified) · 6 years ago

I think Toyota has too much invested in their hybrids. I was told that the hybrid venture started in partnership with Nissan and that Toyota decided to invest more on there part. The Altima hybrid has many Toyota hybrid parts in it, when the new model Altima hybrid arrives it will be all Nissan.

· · 6 years ago

"It's expected that most of the 100 or so Scion iQ EVs .,.."

Was there a number for the RAV4EVs ?

· · 6 years ago

Thanks for this article Brad. I am in agreement with previous posts expressing disappointment that Toyota is building these vehicles, but is not currently willing to sell them in any substantial numbers.

By the way Brad, cite some of Ghosn's comments in your article...did he have anything to say about the Esflow? I must admit I find it curious that the Esflow is often shown in conjunction with the Leaf in advertisements, yet no thumbs up or down on whether this project will move forward.

· · 6 years ago

You'd think that Toyota would be motivated to be a leader in all alternative powertrains based on how many automakers were caught with their pants down when hybrids really took off in the middle of the last decade. Maybe they'll need to be on the receiving end this time to understand.

· Charles (not verified) · 6 years ago

@nosoupforyou, I am not sure a take rate of 2.1% (2011) qualifies as "really took off" for hybrids. Over half of the 2.1% was for the Prius. If you took all of the hybrids as one car, it would have ranked #5 on the list of top selling cars last year (between the Altima and Escape). The top three full size pickup trucks together out sold all hybrids by almost 5 to 1.

I support hybrids and really want the tax rebates to stay for plug ins. I do think a lot of us that support hybrids and other EV type cars are really fooling themselves when we think we are the main stream. We are the 2.25%. We are the correct 2.25%, but we are still a very small minority.

· · 6 years ago

Are you suggesting that more than 2% of the cars on the road are Altimas and more than 2% are Escapes?

· decaffeinated (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'm really disappointed in the RAV4 announcement. A RAV4 plugin hybrid is just the ticket for those folks who want AWD and high MPG and no range anxiety. You know, for those trips on rough roads out to distant trailheads. Or for those trips up mountain passes to distant ski lifts.

I don't think Toyota has a clue that it's neglecting a very large segment of the (outdoor adventure) vehicle market.

· Charles (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver, I am suggesting that of the cars and trucks sold in 2011 that Altimas and Escapes each made up 2% of the total. Here is the data:

Nissan Altima 268,981
Ford Escape 254,293
Total 12,734,356

The Altima and Escape numbers came from:
and the other values came from:

I really find it depressing that the Altima out sold all hybrids. What is even worse is that the top three pick up trucks (F-Series, Silverado and Ram) make up almost 10% of all cars and trucks sold. I believe that most of these trucks are life style and not work trucks. We have a long way to go before the typical American starts making rational decisions when it comes to personal transportation.

Full disclosure, I am not part of the 2.25%. My significant other is, and my next car will move me into the club.

· · 6 years ago

I think its great that you guys over in America are starting to have such a choice of electric cars. Here is Australia there is the Roadster which is over $100,000 and the I Miev which is $48,500. I assume this is the basic model and doesn't include the fast charge option. There is no charging infrastructure at all or government rebate. I don't know how many roadsters they have sold but since July/August 2011 only 37 I Mievs have been purchased. I would love it if you could even have the chance to buy a Rav 4 at a reasonable price.

· · 6 years ago

That is interesting info. I suspect, however, then that hybrids make a much more significant dent in the sedan market, maybe 5%?
Also, I wonder what percent of the over $20K sedan market they make up?
I don't know about where you live but I about scream whenever I hear a car commercial with low prices --- that excludes hybrids. Nobody is making it easy for the hybrids to sell yet, people are buying them.
On my street of 52 houses, 7 of them have hybrids or EVs and of those, 3 of them have 2 hybrids or a hybrid and an EV (me). If you assume about 2 cars per house, that means that 13% of the houses have hybrids and 10% of the cars are hybrids (or EVs).
Clearly, we're a bit above the average but it could indicate that they are selling themselves, once they get a foothold.
As far as EVs go, seldom does a day go by that I don't see another EV on the road and several days I see several of them.

· · 6 years ago

@brg2290 - I haven't seen anything decisive about ESflow going into production or not. I'll keep my eye open for news.

· · 6 years ago

I don't have an SUV. But my guess is that Toyota isn't sure that 100 mile range will mix with the standard SUV commercial of the freedom to do everything. Everything of course being:

#1 Making monthly trips to Costco instead of weekly.

#2 Suddenly and abruptly swerving off the road and ramming the tires over jagged rocks. Granted you could do this to your vehicle, but the 100 mile range might not get you there.

Option #1 would be a possibility, but two could be rough unless the mountains are close or equipped with quick chargers. Maybe they figured out a little late that the Camry or Matrix would've made a better EV platform. Image-wise of course. Nobody I know with an SUV drives up hills, but still it would mess with the commercials and the dream of doing so. Maybe if the test batch sells well though, they'll lose their fear of off-road marketing.

· · 6 years ago

I should probably pad that a bit, I'm sure the RAV4 is a perfectly fine car for a 'real' person's needs. EVNut certainly enjoys his. I'm just not sure how fast this will sink in with the 2012 consumer that doesn't remember or even know about the earlier Rav4 EVs. For them, they need to know that this car will get them to their family vacation spot in addition to just work and the grocery store. Until a massive supply of 440v chargers exist, that vacation dream is a hard one. On top of that, they have to figure out what they'll do with 30 minutes of down time between each ~100 miles of driving 55mph. I don't know that they can sell something as pricey as an SUV, and market like the Leaf as your '2nd' SUV.

· · 6 years ago

I think the problem with the SUV is the perception of what you actually want to do with it with the reality of what it actually gets used for. Where I live SUVs are generally expensive vehicles 40k plus that are so pristine and looked after you could eat your dinner off of them. Most people who own them may take them on sand but would never go bush bashing with them in a hundred years. It's mainly soccer mums driving their kids to school or the supermarket carpark. I doubt they ever get driven over 100km except on the rare occasions to one of the other major cities along a freeway. If you take the ferry over to Moreton Island which has no roads and is all four wheel drive it's mainly well worn Hiluxs and Land cruisers charging around. I think an electric RAV 4 would be perfect where I live but if we had them 99% of people here wouldn't buy one. The fantasy of going off road beats the reality everytime.

· · 6 years ago

Deckard: Yeah I agree. I think they would suit soccer mom's and commuters like myself perfectly fine. I drive 21 miles to work, so I could definitely have miles left over to forget my laptop in that car. Granted it's optimism talking, but I think Toyota wants word of mouth to pave the way for it to be safe to stock more of these. I think too, it would be better in the long run to sell every SUV they make this way, rather than spit out 100,000 of them and have 90,000 catching dust depreciating on dealer lots while the general public figures out they're ok. Plus, the first year (well, officially 2nd year for Rav4), you know they're gonna be recall mania anyway.

· · 6 years ago

The RAV4EV is not an off-road vehicle. It was originally chosen by Toyota to electrify because it is a utility vehicle, quite suitable for fleet use as it easily carries 5 people and equipment or 2 people and quite a bit of equipment. For this use, IMHO, it is quite ideal, as is it for a lot of other uses including soccer mom, around-town utility vehicle, and about anything else except long road-trips.
For long road-trips I, personally, can see a PHEV RAV4EV as being a good candidate.
Perhaps, in the future, Toyota can offer the RAV4EV with or without a range extending generator option.

· · 6 years ago

@Charles I was referring to 6 years ago when gas prices were (relatively) high and hybrids gained notoriety. I was living near San Diego at the time and people pretty much only wanted the Prius when they thought of a new car. Can't speak for the rest of the country, but in my area they were thousands over sticker and there was a 6 month waiting list for new orders. You'd think that Toyota would want to reproduce the hype for a car that reduces (or eliminates) the need to go to the gas station. Considering hybrids had been around for years in 2006, if all that attention isn't "taking off" for a car that was previously relatively unknown, then I don't know what is.

· · 6 years ago

ex-EV1: I thought I heard somewhere you could get a simple gas generator and throw it in the back to make the car/SUV an extended range plugin. Has that ever been done?

Granted Carb, and the CHP probably wouldn't be pleased. But isn't some form of that possible? Granted, hehe, you'd want to roll the windows down and some how pipe the fumes out the window. It probably wouldn't be a quiet ride. But, there ought to be some sort of homemade range extending solution with all that trunk space. Something for that once/twice a year vacation. Hmmm, well if you got re-ended that might not be good. :D

· Mike I (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'm all for the "take a generator with you when you might need it" scenario, but if the BEV is not designed to accept external energy while moving, you shouldn't do it. Just think about the safety interlock when you plug in - the car should not move when connected to an EVSE. So, how are you going to drive while running a generator?

· · 6 years ago

Yup, it's theoretically possible but there are 2 practical limitations for trying to do it yourself:
1) As you point out, there are safety issues.
2) The vehicle manufacturers would have to build their cars to support the capability. Currently, none of today's EVs allow the motor to run while they are charging. This, of course, is a safety feature to keep you from driving away from a charger without disconnecting the cable.

I'm thinking more of an option designed for safety by the vehicle manufacturers.

· 54mpg (not verified) · 6 years ago

Generator idea has practical limitations. I see a few issues:
1. Generators of reasonable sizes can not generate enough power to move the car in a reasonable speed (>55mph).
2. Generators are highly inefficient compared to car ICEs.
3. Pollution controls in garden variety generators (the onces you buy from Lowe's) can not be used in automobiles.
4. You will have carry around the generator in the car, even if you are using it only for 10% time.

· Arisha Nasir (not verified) · 6 years ago

Toyota is making a big mistake on this one. If I can not get a Rav-EV this year, then I will by a Nissan LEAF. At some point you just have to give the business to the company willing to help the environment. If Toyota cant follow throu then I will help Nissan take the lead.

Laterly I have seen Toyota go soft on environment offerings. They have less flex fuel vehicles and now thier newest Prius gets worst MPG than they previous model. I am starting to suspect Chevron and Exxon have influenced them and they are no longer in it to make the world a better place. All we have is Nissan and that is fine with me. Sorry Toyota, you blew it....

· MichaelS (not verified) · 6 years ago

With a range of 50 miles (you know it ill be less than what Toyota claims) the Scion is a joke. Toyota still has no appitite for pure electric cars. Even the Rav4 which I believe would sell very well is going to be a small limited production and they didn't even make it,they outsourced it to Tesla. Their true colors are easy to see

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