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No EVs in sight for Toyota in Oz

Electric dreams: Australia is unlikely to see Toyota-badged EVs for years to come.

Toyota Australia sticks to hybrids as US goes for EV RAV4 and iQ

21 Jul 2011

TOYOTA Australia has no plans to introduce the electric RAV4 EV or any other pure-electric car in the current five year plan.

As well, the Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) currently being trialled in Australia is still under evaluation and not yet confirmed for sale in this market.

The RAV4 EV – developed jointly by Toyota and EV partner Tesla Motors – has been confirmed for public sale in the United States next year.

Despite reports that the battery-powered RAV4 would be marketed only to fleet and car sharing programs in the US, Toyota Motor Sales USA has re-confirmed that the RAV4 EV will be offered for general sale.

It has also announced that it will offer an all-electric version of its new Scion iQ city runabout to fleets and sharing programs in the US from 2012, some months after the introduction of the petrol version that arrives in showrooms on the US west coast this October ahead of a wider roll-out.

But neither of these full-electric vehicles are planned for Australia, according to Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen.

 center imageLeft: Toyota Prius PHV. Below: Toyota RAV4 EV.

“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.

Mr Breen said Toyota did its product planning five years out, and that plan did not include any pure EV.

For now, Toyota is sticking with its expanding Prius petrol-electric hybrid range, with the Prius C hybrid small car being confirmed for local sale from 2012 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.

Depending on the results of the current trial of the plug-in Prius – which has a larger battery pack enabling up to 20km of travel on electric power – it might join the family in 2013.

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.

Toyota paid Tesla $60 million for the original development work on battery packs and motors in the trial RAV4 EVs.

Tesla yesterday announced that it would receive an additional $100 million for more powertrain equipment – including batteries and motors – for the production RAV4 EV next year.

The company did not disclose details of the components, which Toyota said in November were still to be finalised for the production variant.

Toyota has promised that the final production vehicles will be thoroughly re-engineered, unlike the ‘Phase Zero’ prototypes that are converted current RAV4s.

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