The Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-In hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) launched in the United States at the very end of July during the worst possible time in history to launch a new vehicle. With the pandemic still taking thousands of lives each month, and new cases still trending up in key markets, buyers were wary of any shopping that was not critically necessary. Yet, despite this terrible climate in which to launch, Toyota's RAV4 Prime's delivery pace was significantly faster than many other green vehicles now considered success stories.
RAV4 Prime Delivery Data
Toyota replied instantly when Torque News requested a detailed breakdown of the U.S. deliveries of the RAV4 Prime. The first delivery was dated 7-27-2020. In its first 9.5 weeks of sales (basically two months), Toyota put 960 RAV4 Primes into the driveways of new owners. Concurrent with that, Toyota separately delivered 33,635 RAV4 Hybrids in case you wondering if the Hybrid buyers shied away knowing the Prime trim was coming. They did not.
Tesla Delivery Data - Model S, Model X, Model 3
To gain an understanding of how quickly Toyota delivered its first thousand or so RAV4 Prime PHEVs, we compared the ramp in delivery rate to some vehicles that most green car enthusiasts would agree were successes in the marketplace. First we looked at Tesla, the favorite brand of many battery-electric vehicle fans.
The Model S launched in America in June of 2012. It was Tesla's first vehicle that was not a conversion of a Lotus. This new model took seven months to reach 960 units sold. We are not trying to compare this directly to the launch of the RAV4 Prime. It is just one part of the overview.
The Tesla Model X launched in September of 2015. It took Tesla longer to reach 960 units delivered for this third model than it did the Model S. The Model X was a disaster of a launch. It took three months for Tesla to even break double-digit sales. In total, it took Tesla 7 months before it delivered 960 Model X minivans. Tesla swore it had learned all the lessons needed to launch its most important product, the upcoming Model 3 sedan in a more appropriate manner.
Related Story (2015) - Failure to launch- Tesla has delivered 15 Model X vehicles in 3 months
The Tesla Model 3 launched in July of 2017. By this point in time, Tesla had produced three prior vehicle models and was a 14-year old company with billions in public financing. It took Tesla a bit more than five months to deliver 960 vehicles. So, Toyota's RAV4 Prime run rate was more than double the Tesla Model 3's in its first months of deliveries. It is hard to argue that the Tesla Model 3 is not the world's most successful electric vehicle.
Chevy Volt and Chevy Bolt Delivery Ramp vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime
Tesla is not the only green vehicle manufacturer to slow-walk intial launches. When Chevy first debuted the Volt PHEV in December of 2010 (known back in the old days an EREV), it took this global manufacturing leader three months to deliver 960 Volts.
When GM launched the Bolt BEV in December of 2016, its launch was more impressive than all the prior green vehicle launches in history (with the possible exception of the Prius). It took GM just two months to deliver 960 Bolts. Our guestimate is that it was about 7 weeks, but Mfgs don't break deliveries down by weeks. So, our estimate is that the Bolt and RAV4 Prime had very similar delivery paces at launch.
Nissan Leaf Gen 1 and Leaf Gen 2 Ramp vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime
It took Nissan about six months to deliver 960 Leafs back in late 2010 and early 2011. The second-generation Leaf debuted in Q2 of 2018. It is hard to say exactly how many were delivered in what span of time since the Leaf Gen 1 deliveries are mixed in. But in January of 2018 Nissan only delivered 150 total Leafs.
One last Comparison - Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV vs. Toyota RAV4 Prime Deliveries
Through the end of September, Mitsubishi has delivered 947 Outlander PHEVs. Toyota's RAV4 Prime delivery rate is more than triple that of this green crossover model which has been in the marketplace for over two model years.
Why No Tesla Model Y Comparison?
Torque News reached out to the Tesla media support team and asked for the U.S. delivery history of the Model Y crossover which launched in late Q1 of this year. That data is known to Tesla and no longer secret in any way. We were unable to find any other reliable source of U.S. delivery data for the Model Y, or any official Tesla delivery data broken down by month and model. Tesla has a long history of obscuring its delivery data. Our usual third-party sources for such data, notably InsideEVs, stopped the hard work required to tease this information out of RMV records when EVs total sales began to decline last year. So, without a source, we cannot comment on the Model Y's launch volumes. As usual, Tesla opted not to participate in any sort of analysis of its deliveries in the U.S.
Toyota RAV4 Prime Delivery Expectations Going Forward
With a U.S Presidential election cycle about to hit in the midddle of this present quarter, we would expect Toyota to purposefully restrict its RAV4 Prime sales to some degree. Affordable EVs sell better when they benefit from massive tax benefits and without any clarity on the future of the incentives, all manufaturers seem to be slow-walking their new green vehicles. Honda, Hyundai,and Kia have all kicked their crossover PHEV model launches in to 2021. We would expect Toyota to continue to deliver about 500 RAV4 Primes per month until year's end, and then we can better forecast the green vehicle delivery volumes in early 2021.
Summary - Toyota's RAV4 Prime Launch Among the Most Robust In EV History
What is not in question is that the green vehicle media who favor battery-electric vehicles seized on a set of "talking points" to diminish the success of the hot Toyota RAV4 Prime. The RAV4 Prime has been launched at a rate that is faster than almost every green vehicle in history, yet the green vehicle media continues to sideline the success of the vehicle by falsely pretending its volume of delivery is less than would normally be expected. Tesla-advocacy publication, Elektrek, called Toyota's delivery schedule of 5,000 units in 2020 as "laughable." Yet, 5,000 units of a new EV is a pace that is among the fastest in green vehicle history.
Toyota's transparent sharing of delivery data is just one example of how the truth of the matter is often ignored in favor of an agenda by those green vehicle advocates who see only one type of vehicle as a soluton to a problem Toyota has been tackling longer than any other manufacturer.
For historical sales data of EVs, we suggest InsideEvs. Some of the data in this story were pulled from this valuable reource.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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