Electric Toyotas not for us Downunder drivers

By Alastair Sloane

A diesel Toyota Rav4. Photo / Supplied
A diesel Toyota Rav4. Photo / Supplied

Don't expect Toyota in New Zealand and Australia to pick up the electric RAV4 its parent in Japan is developing with California company Tesla Motors.

Tesla Motors is to supply Toyota with EV powertrain equipment worth about $115 million for the plug-in RAV4, which goes into production next year.

The battery-powered RAV4 will be offered for general sale, despite reports that it would only be available to fleet and car-sharing programmes in the US. "We'd like to set the record straight," said Toyota.

"The 2012 RAV4 EV will definitely be sold to the general public.

"We anticipate robust public interest in the RAV4 EV and are keen to inform consumers that their future vehicle options include a battery-electric Toyota."

It also confirmed that it will offer an all-electric version of its new Scion iQ city runabout to fleets and sharing programmes in the US from 2012.

But neither of these full-electric vehicles are planned for New Zealand or Australia, says Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen.

"We are always looking at new models to introduce, but we have no plans for any electric vehicle, at least not in the foreseeable future," he said. Breen told website GoAuto that Toyota did its product planning five years out, and that plan did not include any pure EV.

For now, Toyota on both sides of the Tasman is sticking with its expanding Prius petrol-electric hybrid range, with the Prius C hybrid small car likely to appear here from next year alongside the current third-generation five-door Prius hatchback.

A larger family wagon Prius is also expected to join the group in either five-seat Prius V or seven-seat Prius+ guise around the same time.

The RAV4 EV - unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show in November - is being trialled with a fleet of 35 prototypes in the US.

Armed with Tesla-supplied lithium metal oxide battery packs good for a 160km range, the vehicles are said to weigh about 100kg more than a standard RAV4 but can accelerate from 0-100km/h almost as quickly.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 19 Apr 2014 21:35:36 Processing Time: 397ms