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Toyota adding thousands to deals to move slow-selling RAV 4 EV

Toyota is having difficulty selling the RAV 4s it needs to in order to comply with government mandates. Those looking for an EV crossover could get a great deal.

Toyota is having trouble moving the California-only RAV 4 EV crossover and to move them is offering an incredible discount on leases. Toyota has to sell all the RAV 4 EVs it makes as part of its compliance with the California Air Resources Board mandates, so it will stop at nothing to move the unpopular electric conversions.

We noticed the RAV 4 EVs troubles first while reviewing the monthly sales figures Toyota publishes. More specifically, we noticed that it does not even appear on that publication. We like Inside EVs’ monthly EV tally and that publication shows that the RAV 4 EV sells in number of less than 100 per month. Some months the number is way less.

According to John Voelcker’s scoop in Green Car Reports, Toyota is not able to keep up with its target to move the RAV 4 EV and is therefore offering to subsidize leases by adding an allowance of up to $16,500. Add that to California’s rebate of $2,500 and the federal government’s $7,500 tax rebate and customers are ending up with lease payments in the neighborhood of just under $500 per month. Not bad for a car with a sticker price of $50K. This subsidizing of EV leases is something we reported in our recent story explaining why EVs have the lowest resale value of all vehicles.

The problem is not the RAV 4. The old and new RAV 4 are runaway hits. The EV version is built off the old RAV 4 platform with battery and drive components from the world’s top EV maker, Tesla Motors. Despite this excellent pedigree, customers in California, the only market that the vehicle is offered, don’t want it.

Those considering leasing one and then living outside California may want to think again. Plug-In Cars reports that customers are having a lot of trouble having the vehicles serviced. Again, more evidence counter to the myth that EVs require no service.

Apparently the type and design of EVs matters. Tesla has a waiting list of up to 6 months for US orders of its Model S and the Nissan Leaf’s sales are now again on the upswing. The Toyota Prius Plug-in is also a solid sales performer, selling at about double the rate of the popular Mazda Miata and close to the same rate as the Scion FR-S.


Charlotte Omoto (not verified)    April 24, 2014 - 1:25PM

I think conflating all EVs together provides the wrong impression. With Tesla, many changes and updates are done over the air, but with Toyota, you must take it to a dealer for a firmware update and not just at any Toyota dealer but only at ones authorized to sell EVs! So the fact that Toyota has a huge network of dealerships do not benefit the owner of a RAV4 EV. The "myth of EVs requiring no service" is for one not accurate, they do require service, just not nearly as much as an ICE, and for Tesla, it is way easier to get much of that service than evidently RAV4 EV. I wonder how much of the lack of sales is due to dealers not promoting the EV? My father-in-law recently went to a Nissan dealer to consider the Leaf, since his Buick is getting to the point that it needs major repairs. However, the sales person gave him multiple reasons why he wouldn't want a Leaf and directed him to other non-EV models. I countered each of the arguments that the sales person gave him, and he is going back to the dealer, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up buying a regular car.

John Goreham    April 24, 2014 - 3:45PM

In reply to by Charlotte Omoto (not verified)

I think it is great you went with your dad-in-law to buy a new car. Tell us some of the things he said to dissuade your dad, I'd like to know what they say. - My experience with Nissan was also very negative and I mention it often. I tried to buy a 370Z from two dealers and neither really wanted to sell it to me, so I bought a Lexus. One dealer wouldn't let me test drive the car, despite the fact I had a convertible sports car for them to evaluate as my trade (I had "cash" for the balance). Then within months bought a second Lexus because I liked the cars and ownership experience so much. - - I don't think it is unfair to include the Tesla in the EV maintenance vs ICE discussion. Tesla owners have reported what they paid to Tesla at their first service and it is far more than any competitor charges. Particularly BMW, which for most cars does not even require an oil change at the first annual service (it is no charge if the vehicle does require it). Tesla makes the best EV in the world by a long shot, but they missed the opportunity to include all maintenance in the vehicle at no charge forever or for the first 50k miles, which is what one gets with a BMW, i3 or ICE version. By selling it and offering maintenance packages for sale they lost that argument. - This article was unusual for me, but I like how it came out. Not a single external source listed is anything but Pro-EV. There are some internal TN links to broaden the scope, but the three pro-EV sites make up the bulk of the story. Thanks for your frequent and much appreciated comments.

Charlotte Omoto (not verified)    April 24, 2014 - 9:36PM

I did not go with my father-in-law. He related the experience to me later.
I agree that Tesla missed the boat by not including annual service for free. I, for one, did not get the annual maintenance package, and when I went in to get my titanium underbody shield, they did all that would be done for an annual service for free.