John Goreham's picture

Toyota ending RAV4 EV collaboration with Tesla may mean a Prius EV surprise

Toyota has been losing money on each RAV4 EV it builds. Maybe the automaker will instead surprise Californians by offering a Prius EV compliance car in its place?
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Toyota and Tesla have both said in separate statements that their collaboration on the Toyota RAV4 EV is ending. This is the latest sign from the world’s largest automaker that it thinks electric vehicles powered exclusively by on-board batteries will not be the future of green motoring. EV advocates can scoff all they want about Toyota’s opinion, but it would not take more than one of the other top four automakers to publically go in Toyota’s direction to shake up the EV world.

Toyota and Tesla have collaborated on the Toyota RAV4 EV electric-powered crossover now for about 3 years. The plan was to sell about 2,600 of the incredibly expensive to build crossovers in order for Toyota to comply with California’s zero emissions vehicle mandate. To date, according to Inside EVs, Toyota has delivered about 1600 of the RAV4 EVs, therefore it is likely to continue to build out the rest using the Tesla battery packs it will receive through the end of the production agreement with Tesla.

By comparison, Toyota has sold about 30,000 Plug-in Prius cars since 2012. Its base Prius hybrid outsells the entire EV market in the US by more than 2-1. The Prius Plug-in is one of the top electrified vehicles in the US market, and was the second most popular car with a plug in April. Toyota is losing money on every RAV4 EV, which Green Car Reports estimated uses about $40K worth of Tesla content per vehicle. On the other hand, Toyota’s quarter million per year run rate of Prius (non-plug-ins) makes it a great platform to accept a lower cost, internally-built electric drive. Perhaps Toyota has a surprise coming in the next year or two? By all accounts Toyota could donate 2600 Prius EVs to Californian charities for what it costs to work with Tesla on the RAV4.

The mainstream media thinks that Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell cars are the reason for this break in the partnership between Tesla and Toyota. Maybe the easy to imagine story is the right one. What do you think?

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