Toyota Triples RAV4 Prime US Delivery Rate - Taking Sales Back From Tesla
Toyota delivered more RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV) in Q4 than was forecasted or expected. In total, Toyota delivered 3,200 RAV4 Prime vehicles in the second two quarters of 2020 following its mid-year launch. This is a much faster ramp than Toyota had indicated the company would follow.
Toyota Doubles RAV4 Prime Delivery Rate
Toyota told Torque News in October that the company had delivered 960 RAV4 Prime PHEVs in its first quarter of sales. That rate of sales was faster than even the Tesla Model 3’s first quarter when introduced. In Q4, the RAV4 Prime’s second quarter of sales since its US launch, the pace was twice that of its first three months of sales. Toyota delivered 2,240 RAV4 Primes from October through December. That pace of US sales is faster than the Tesla Model 3, Chevy Volt, and Nissan Leaf had in their first six months of sales. In December, Toyota delivered more than 1,000 RAV4 Primes, showing that its rate of deliveries last month was triple that of its first few months.
Toyota RAV4 Prime Becoming the EV To Watch In 2021
The RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle has quickly gained a strong following of fans and shoppers hoping to score this hot new electric vehicle. Dealers, particularly in California, are seeing overwhelming shopper interest resulting in some dealers charging higher than MSRP and still closing deals as soon as inventory arrives.
Tesla Owners Among Notable RAV4 Prime Buyers
Some notable buyers are existing Tesla battery-electric vehicle owners. This should be no surprise. Past polls we have conducted show that green vehicle shoppers generally seek out newer and better electrified vehicles as their old EVs age.
In the case of Tesla owners, it isn’t that the RAV4 Prime is a “better” EV, but rather that it offers more flexibility in situations important to SUV owners. For example, some Tesla owners who purchased a new RAV4 Prime point to the RAV4 Prime’s ability to tow for significantly greater distances and to then refuel with ease. Have you ever tried backing a BEV into a charger space while towing two snowmobiles on a trailer? Or tracked a BEV’s range drop in winter while towing? Battery-electric sport utility vehicles have a long way to go to match the winter towing abilities of a plug-in hybrid like the RAV4 Prime.
Other owners point out that the RAV4 Prime suits their commuting needs without using any gasoline, but also offers an “unlimited range” and hybrid efficiency on long road trips with uncertain charging availability. Gasoline is available everywhere, and a RAV4 Prime owner can add about 550 miles of hybrid range in under ten minutes. Adding that much range to a Tesla BEV, if a charger is even available, takes over an hour, and requires more than one stop.
2021 Will Make Or Break The RAV4 Prime
In calendar 2021, Hyundai, Ford, Kia, Mitsubishi, and other brands have all announced that a new PHEV the size of the RAV4 Prime will be available. Toyota’s lead in the segment will only continue if its volume of sales continues to grow over time.
Toyota initially launched the RAV4 Prime in the “ZEV States” in America that offer incentives, and mimic the California green vehicle model. For the RAV4 Prime to truly make an impact, Toyota will need to expand that availability. As of today, frantic RAV4 Prime shoppers are buying out of state if their local dealer does not fall into Toyota’s list of target markets.
Toyota Hybrid Sales Skyrocket - Beats Tesla?
Toyota’s “conventional” hybrids, meaning those without a plug, have also taken off. The RAV4 Hybrid continues to be a top-selling vehicle, not just in the context of green vehicles, but by any measure. Toyota sold just under 116,000 RAV4 Hybrids in 2020. Amazingly, Toyota and Lexus hybrid sales went up by 22% in 2020 to over 336,000 units. Tesla doesn’t publish its US sales numbers normally. We hope they make an exception this quarter. GoodCarBadCar estimates that through the end of Q3 Tesla's US deliveries were about a quarter-million vehicles. It would be interesting to see which company is the leader in US green vehicle sales. We suspect it remains Toyota despite the recent success of the Tesla Model Y.
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