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EV, seven-seat Toyota RAV4 a chance

Electric future: The freshly revealed RAV4 will be offered with a hybrid, but an EV is also a possibility.

Toyota USA boss coy on future RAV4 model variants

2 Apr 2018


TOYOTA has not ruled out offering a seven-seat version of its freshly-revealed fifth-generation RAV4 SUV, while a fully electric version is also a possibility.

The Japanese car-maker uncovered the all-new RAV4 at last week’s New York motor show, revealing a fresh look and announcing a petrol-electric hybrid variant that has been locked in for Australia, with more derivatives possibly on the way.

Toyota Motor North America group vice-president and general manager of the Toyota division, Jack Hollis, would not rule out a three-row version of the new mid-size SUV, but said it was unlikely in the short term.

“I think we have different options for seven seats, we have the Highlander (Kluger), we have growth of Sequoia and LandCruiser and different options,” he told GoAuto on Toyota’s New York show stand.

“I think RAV4 in its compactness holds a certain space. But I will say there is always room for growing SUV entries. So whether we decide to bring one in a seven seater or something different, that is something that I will keep you waiting for those answers.”

Currently the Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail and Honda’s CR-V are the most popular mid-size seven-seater SUVs available in Australia, but Peugeot just launched its 5008 and Volkswagen’s Tiguan Allspace arrives later this year.

Meanwhile, Mr Hollis said Toyota’s electrified offerings would grow in the coming years, and there could be a chance that the RAV4 would be offered with more alternative powertrains.

“Of all electrification vehicles, Toyota owns 70 per cent of that market. We are going to continue to show and have more and more offerings, whether it is plug-in or pure EV.

“We are going to have that in our line-up. Whether that comes to RAV4 and how soon, that is a ‘stay tuned’ moment.”

The new-gen RAV4 will be available with a petrol-electric hybrid system, while the previous-generation RAV4 was offered in full EV guise in limited numbers in California and was a collaboration between Toyota and the then little known EV start-up, Tesla.

Mr Hollis said the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that also underpins the new Camry, the C-HR, just revealed Corolla and the Prius has been developed to be flexible and offered with multiple powertrain offerings, meaning another RAV4 EV was not out of the question.

“The TNGA platform has given us abilities for just about anything. Added features, more styling, bending sheet metal differently, there is a lot of different opportunities that TNGA gives us. EV, plug in, all of those are still very viable.” Mr Hollis was unwilling to predict whether the new RAV4 could overtake the Corolla – revealed in new-gen guise in March at the Geneva show – as Toyota’s best-selling model globally.

“Corolla is still number one and you have got to think about different market places and different sizes of vehicles. You have many countries where the (passenger) car is still the dominant feature, and really small compact cars, like in Japan.

“But I do think RAV4 continues to grow its dominance because it is growing in all of our markets. But whether it is going to be number one or not that is something that I don’t know. So no real projection there, but we are excited about seeing where it goes.”

Last year the Corolla outsold the RAV4 by about 400,000 units globally, with 1.2 million sales of the small car compared to just over 801,000 of the mid-size SUV.

The new RAV4 will hit Australian showrooms in 2019, while the Corolla lands this August. The Corolla will also be offered with a hybrid powertrain from launch.

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