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Toyota RAV4 Primes Begin To Appear At Non-ZEV-State Dealers

Toyota’s hottest model begins to expand beyond its initial launch states into states that do not overtly support EV adoption.


Earlier this week, a post in one of the Facebook RAV4 Prime Owners’ Clubs caught our eye. A proud owner of a new RAV4 Prime showed off the new plug-in hybrid-electric crossover they had just driven home from their local dealer - in Ohio. Toyota had indicated that it would mostly seed the RAV4 Prime in the 12 ZEV states during its launch. However, Ohio is not a ZEV state. That prompted us to do some digging.

Related Story: Toyota RAV4 Prime Is 2nd-Fastest-Selling Vehicle In America

Clarification On RAV4 Prime Inventory Allotments
We reached out to Toyota and asked if the Prime is now heading outside of the EV comfort zone and into other states. Toyota corrected our understanding on how the RAV4 Prime is being allocated by saying, “RAV4 Prime has never been strictly ZEV states, but rather just most of the allotment there. When it first went on sale, each region, even those that didn’t have ZEV states, were allotted a few (doesn’t mean every state got one, but each region did have one).”

RAV4 Prime Owners Weigh In
We then went to the owners and asked them where they purchased their RAV4 Prime. Specifically, we did not ask where the owner lived, but where the Toyota dealer who they purchased from resides. In just moments, owners from Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Florida, and Ohio confirmed that they purchased vehicles in those states.

Most EVs Launched Into ZEV States
Nearly every electric vehicle ever launched in America began sales in California and the acolyte states that adopt ZEV-state mandates. This is logical given that the ZEV states represent a third of the total sales of all vehicles, not just EVs, in America. Shipping to limited states initially saves time and money. Tesla, in particular, chose California and nearby ZEV states as the location for all of the inventory in the early launch phases of its vehicles, most notably the Model 3. In fact, Tesla still has US states without sales and service locations.

The expansion of the RAV4 Prime into new states that are not overtly embracing electric vehicles by becoming a ZEV mandate state is great news for the legions of shoppers frustrated that they cannot find a RAV4 Prime at their local dealer. Although ordering a RAV4 Prime from out-of-state (like many Tesla owners do) is possible, it is a hassle that no new car buyer prefers.

RAV4 Prime Launch Volume
The RAV4 Prime is in its tenth month of sales. The very first units were delivered at the end of July 2020. The RAV4 Prime’s launch was one of the most robust in US EV history. Only the Bolt, Mustang Mach-E, and possibly the Tesla Model Y (Tesla won’t say) may have had as many units delivered in their initial six months of being for sale.

Related Story: Toyota’s New Plan Has EV Advocates Rolling Their Eyes

Entering 2021, Toyota was way ahead of its projected delivery volume for the RAV4 Prime. Toyota confirmed this week to Torque News that its RAV4 Prime launch remains on track despite the craziness of chip shortages, battery supply chain limits, and shipping chaos. Check back the first week of June for the next update on the RAV4 Prime’s delivery numbers.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. 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 TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


Nick C (not verified)    May 19, 2021 - 12:10PM

I’m in PA and I still get a message when I try to build on on Toyota’s site that availability is very limited and to consider a RAV4 Hybrid or Venza. If I put in a zip code within a ZEV state, this doesn’t happen.

Jack (not verified)    May 25, 2021 - 8:14PM

In reply to by Nick C (not verified)

I guess it’s also a matter of being in the right place at the right time. A couple of weeks ago I went to my local Toyota dealer to let them know I was looking for a RAV4 Prime and to take a test drive in a RAV4 Hybrid to see how I liked it. Less than a week later, he called to let me know that his dealership had been allocated one (SE in Supersonic Red) and wanted to give me first dibs at reserving it. I looked over the spec sheet and told him that I would be down the next day to give him a deposit check. He said that it was scheduled to begin production on May 21st. Anybody know how long it takes from start of manufacture in Japan to arrival at the dealer in the eastern US? North central West Virginia to be more specific.

I guess my advice would be to actually pay a visit in person to your local dealer and let them know you’re interested.