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Captain Hybrid
Electric RAV4 Rolls Off Toyota Line
6/5/2012

Toyota's RAV4 EV is a niche vehicle for sophisticated early adopters. (Source: Toyota)
Toyota's RAV4 EV is a niche vehicle for sophisticated early adopters.
(Source: Toyota)

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Beth Stackpole
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Price doesn't fit the brand
Beth Stackpole   6/5/2012 7:42:28 AM
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I applaud Toyota's efforts to explore a multitude of alternative technologies. However, the problem I see with this introduction is no one is going to plunk down $49K for RAV4. That brand is viewed as more of a low-end, perhaps mid-range vehicle for those who like small, sporty packages. No collaboration with luxury EV maker Tesla or any combination of bells and whistles are going to change that perspective, I wouldn't think.

tekochip
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
tekochip   6/5/2012 8:02:14 AM
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I agree Beth.  If Toyota already knows that the pricetag is going to be high they really need to make the product more attractive as a high-end vehicle.

GlennA
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
GlennA   6/5/2012 9:27:57 AM
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Beth Stackpole;  Toyota definitely seems to be targeting 'high-end' consumers.  Also, I think all of the production is allocated to the California market, vs. national market.  I remember looking at the Prius when they all had multi-disk CD changers, rear cameras, DVD entertainment systems, and Navigation systems.  My wife now drives a 2010 Prius without all these upscale features, because 'stripped-down' versions are now available, and much less expensive.  Once Toyota sees what the market actually is, they may offer a less expensive, less decked-out version.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
TJ McDermott   6/5/2012 10:17:13 AM
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Thank you Toyota, for trying to meet the letter of the mandate and not the spirit.

$49k, for a vehicle with 100 mile range, and that with a larger battery than Leaf.

Toyota's created a self-fulfilling prophesy, that these are going to sit on the lot.


Charles Murray
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
Charles Murray   6/5/2012 7:10:49 PM
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Beth, I agree that no combination of bells and whistles will induce droves of customers to spend $50K on a RAV4, and Toyota clearly knows that. That said, I respect Toyota for taking the approach they're taking here. Their Prius will have more far, far more impact on the environment than the limited number of pure electric cars that are going to be sold. From the beginning, Toyota has been very open about its beliefs on pure electrics. The late, great Dave Hermance (known as "the American father of the Prius"), was a huge proponent of green powertrain technology, and he wasn't a believer in pure electrics. And not much has changed since he made his pronouncements.

Jerry dycus
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
Jerry dycus   6/5/2012 8:31:54 PM
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 Yet Charles many pay far more for say a BMW which in advanced tech this is more than equal.  These are not economy cars but high tech limited production vehicles.

And don't forget the original ones still sell for more than $50K, peaked at $75k a few yrs ago.!!!  Though that is likely to drop with these coming out.  But driving for 10-14 yrs for almost free means it really is an economy car too.

One needs to look at resale value.  What do you think it will be when gasoline is $10/gal in 5 yrs or so?

As for battery cost please Charles tell me where the costs are?  The cells these are made from are Panasonic that can be bought for $250/kwhr retail.  Now Panasonic packages them into 100amphr, 25.4vdc blocks for Tesla, Toyota and suppose to be used in Tesla's new sedan EV coming soon.

How much does packaging these cells cost Charles, $750kwhr?  It'd have to to reach $1000kwhr cost you keep spouting., No?

The casing, tabbing together and BMS isn't over $100kwhr.  So just where do these batteries cost go to to reach your price quoted levels?   At most would be $350/kwhr OEM and likely $275/kwhr.

Waiting for your explaination.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
Beth Stackpole   6/6/2012 7:25:07 AM
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I respect Toyota's approach as well, Chuck, and I am totally in the mindset that alternative avenues have to be pursued simultaneously as there is no real one answer (YET) to solving the energy efficiency challenge.

Jerry: This car might have technology rivals a BMW, but I can guarantee you that a BMW driver well used to spending $49K-plus on a car isn't going to spend the same on a RAV4 regardless of what it offers. There's a lot more connected to the BMW brand in terms of status, luxury, performance, etc., and even with equal technology, the RAV brand just can't command the same footing.

Jerry dycus
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
Jerry dycus   6/6/2012 8:19:45 AM
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   And yet the first RAV4 EV's sold out as fast as built at $45k and resold on Ebay for $79k for a 8 yr old one was the highest I've seen.  That shows  they are high tech toys just like BMW buyers who pay for ego. No?

Many were willing to pay huge sums to keep their EV-1's and GM was offered $25M for them they were going to and did crush. 

One needs to understand marketing that reason has little to do with it, perception does. Otherwise a diamond would have little value.  Only by conning people into thinking they have value do they have any.

I'm rational and think critically but few others do in the US. Likely you, others here think like I do but you must understand most people don't if you want sell, deal with them.  Fashion is far more important than if something works, as long as it looks good as an example.

I use to sell sailboats and the cheap, Watkins/Hunters but not very well done ones sold 5x's the rate of a quality, C+C, one only 25% more expensive but will last many times longer and far safer, less likely to sink, break.

Bunter
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Platinum
Alternate thought on "price"
Bunter   6/6/2012 9:55:56 AM
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Personally I don't see much relevance to the discussion of the "retail" prices of any of these vehicles, E-RAV4, Leaf or Volt. These prices are a fiction,the vehicles are all sold at a loss and we have no idea of what price would be required to make them profitable.

As Jerry points out-there are a limited group of folks that will pony up fairly large sums of money to buy an experimantal "clean or green" vehicle.  And that is OK.

However it seems increasingly obvious (my opinion), that a commerially viable, profitable, mass market EV (extended range or all-electric) is a long way off.  It is probably good for the manufacturers to research this, learn more, but I think we will be using primarily IC engines for the next 25-30 years at a minimum.

When a viable EV does arrive the market will sort the price.  If the manufacturers are forced to build them then the price of all our vehicles will rise-alot.

Some thoughts.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Charles Murray
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Re: Price doesn't fit the brand
Charles Murray   6/6/2012 11:32:30 AM
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If the cell cost is $250/kWh as you say, Jerry, then the battery pack cost should be about twice that -- or $500/kWh. That isn't my figure; it's a figure from the National Research Council.

But let's go back to what you said: "The cells these are made from are Panasonic that can be bought for $250/kWh." The key word there is "can." Yes, the cells "can" be bought for prices as low as that. But automakers generally don't buy off-the-shelf. They partner with the battery company, change the chemistry to their own power and energy specs, and then test for quality and long-term reliability. The bottom line is: The battery is better, it's custom-engineered and the price is different than the off-the-shelf prices you're quoting.

As for the pack costs, we've explained this numerous times, but here it is again: Pack costs are based on cells + structural pack and cooling + development + costs over life. The automakers need to put the cells in a box with structural integrity and they need to cool the battery. Then there's the cost of doing business: Warranties; failures and liabilities. As we've recently seen in the news, failures and fires happen. So they have to build in the costs of our litigious society and they have to offer a warranty.

The final number comes out to be about twice the cell cost. Here's a quote from the National Research Council report: "The cost of assembling the pack is about the same as the cost of the cells." Notice they didn't even mention warranties and liabilities.

So could it be $800 - $1,000/kWh, as we've repeatedly said? The National Academy of Engineering says so, the Center for Automotive Research says so, Pike Research and Lux Research and Toyota say so. But if you're right, and the cell cost is $250, then the pack cost will still be twice that.

In this case, Toyota didn't give us exact figures. They said simply, it's in the neighborhood of $1,000/kWh. We noted that in the article and made it clear we can't put a definitive figure on it.

The truth is, it's really tough to pin down the exact cost. But I think it's worth noting that when a Tesla Roadster owner bricked his battery late last year, Tesla didn't ask for a price of $250/kWh. If they had, the battery would have been about $13,000. Instead Tesla offered the owner a "friends and family" price of $40,000. 

Yes, you can find off-the-shelf cell prices of $250/kWh. But battery packs are a lot more expensive than that.

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