Toyota is one of those companies that has been shedding big crocodile tears about how nobody wants to buy electric cars. (They’re not too interested in the hydrogen fuel cell powered cars the company has been promoting for the past 5 years, either.) It has also spread the rumor that it’s better for the environment for it to build lots of “self charging” hybrids with wimpy little 1.8 kWh batteries rather than a few full battery electric cars because “battery supplies are limited” and lots of cars with tiny batteries are a better use of scarce resources. Horse puckey!
Just one month ago, we brought our readers news of an all new RAV4 Prime that broke with Toyota’s past practice. It has a plug (GASP!) and an 18.1 kWh battery, which is large enough to qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit. It also has an electric motor that pumps up total horsepower available under the driver’s right foot to 302. The 0–60 mph sprint takes just 5.7 seconds — making it the fastest RAV4 ever and faster than almost any other crossover SUVs in America (except for one that features falcon-wing doors).
The best part is the new RAV4 Prime, with all-wheel drive standard, can be had for under $32,000 after the federal tax credit. Sweet! Where do we sign up? Actually, curb your enthusiasm there, pardner. Just 3 weeks after the start of production for the RAV4 Prime, Toyota has announced it won’t build any more for a while. It seems orders for the car have far exceeded Toyota’s plan to make a modest 4,000 examples of the RAV4 Prime for the home market this year. Nobody wants a car you have to plug in? Hogwash.
Inside EVs asks this highly pertinent question: “What is the problem, and why did it happen in times of general slowdown of car sales, when a surplus of manufacturing capacity over sales could be redirected towards plug-ins?”
Reports in the Japanese media suggest Toyota simply failed to line up a large enough supply of batteries to meet the demand, even though all the batteries for the planned home market production of 4,000 vehicles would only require about 5.5 MWh of batteries — a very modest amount in today’s world in which battery factory output starts at 10 GWh and goes up sharply from there. One suspects the big bosses at Toyota simply didn’t believe the car would sell well and failed to arrange for an adequate supply of batteries. That is almost as inconceivable as introducing a new gasoline powered model and forgetting to order pistons.
There is also a hint that Toyota is unsure of what tax credit programs will look like next year, but that is clearly an attempt by the company to cover up for its incompetence at the executive level. Perhaps the large number of orders for the RAV4 Prime will shock upper management into realizing the EV revolution is real and they better get on the bus PDQ or get left behind as Tesla and other companies eat their lunch.
Min’na genki ni natte. (Smarten up, guys.) The company you save could be your own.
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