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Captain Hybrid

Electric RAV4 Rolls Off Toyota Line

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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.

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.

Bunter
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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

mcquade181
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
mcquade181   6/6/2012 8:31:29 PM
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The rapid advances in battery and graphene supercapacitors, suggests that your 25-30 year reliance on the IC engine is way, way off.

Batteries are likely to be half the price within 2 years and super capacitors viable within 5 years. This suggests a quite rapid reduction in the cost to build electric cars, and of course a ramp up in numbers being sold.

I suspect most of us will be driving EVs in 10 years time and those vehicles will be similarly priced to todays IC vehicles.

Bunter
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
Bunter   6/8/2012 10:46:00 AM
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Hi mcquade,

"Batteries are likely to be half the price within 2 years and super capacitors viable within 5 years."-I think you will need to provide more than just a statement here.  As discussed in a number of previous forums battery development is a) slower than many (media, public, polititians) expect b)the batt is only a portion of the cost c) range, size, weight and recharge issues are all part of the barriers to the wide spread implimentation of EVs as personal transportation.

But for fun let's say the price is halved-Toyota's engineers (who know more about the cost of battery systems in commercially viable, profitable cars than anybody) put the system price at $500/mile range.

So let's generously assume that the packaging, cooling and electronics also cut in half.  $250/mile X 100 miles=$25000 just for the battery pack, plus a car to put it in. $40k easy, for a vehicle that goes 100 miles and takes hours to refuel-if you can find an outlet.

And please don't say "the Leaf costs less already".  Nissan loses a pile on each one.  To become a real choice EVs need range, quick recharge, affordability, charging availibility and the companies need to be able to make a profit selling them.

25-30 years is conservative in my opinion.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Charles Murray
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
Charles Murray   6/8/2012 5:56:27 PM
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Good points, Dennis. When a Tesla Roadster owner recently bricked his battery, Tesla offered him a "friends and family" price of $40,000 to replace it.

Bunter
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
Bunter   6/11/2012 3:41:04 PM
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Thanks Charles, I appreciate your feedback.

I'm far from an expert in these matters but I feel a key to good engineering (and most decision making problems...govt anyone) is asking the right questions, probing in the corners, pulling stuff apart.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
Jack Rupert, PE   6/10/2012 1:29:30 PM
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I'm just trying to get the full picture of the cost and I don't know enough about the recharging processes.  The article says that the Leaf's battery is 24KWh.  Are the process losses insignificant enough to deterimine the recharge price by multiplying the current rate (in this case 0.12) by the battery capacity?

Bunter
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
Bunter   6/11/2012 3:45:46 PM
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Hi Jack,

Not sure I,m following your thought train.

When I've been talking about price it has been with referance to vehicle manufacturing and retail prices and the cost of the battery pack (battery, housing, cooling controls).

I've not been looking at the cost of recharging.

Regards,

Dennis

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Alternate thought on "price"
Jack Rupert, PE   6/15/2012 3:37:16 PM
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I was just trying to point out that there is an additional component to the price calculation, especially with respect to the retail market where the EV's are being compared agains more convention models. 

benmlee2
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Takes Time
benmlee2   6/6/2012 11:54:07 AM
People pay $40K+ for BMW ego. Others want to pay the same for the environment. Is not a practical car, and is not a status car. But you are paying for the R&D for the possibility of a better future for all. Somebody has to do it. I applaud Toyota for trying and people for buying a plain RAV4 with out the three letters "BMW" on the hood just so they can help the cause. Because they will never get any admiring stares from others like with BMW. If you got $40k to burn anyway, which would you choose?

My dad got the first Apple II. It was very expensive. Mom asked what can it do. He can't give a good answer. It was a dream. He was the early adaptor. It was never useful for anything. We loved the games though to dad's chagrin. Yet, in time, it changed the world. Nothing wrong with buying into a dream. Somebody has to be first. Dad so happen to have the money at the time.

Bunter
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Re: Takes Time
Bunter   6/6/2012 1:00:44 PM
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Hi Ben,

An EV is "not a status car"-I question that.  Different groups measure status diferently.

I have no problem either with someone "buying a dream" to help the enviroment-if they think it will.  But, they will get a huge status boost in the "green" community they belong to.  We all like "our group" to think well of us.

The early PCs carried technology status also-I remember it well.

Think it over.

Regards,

Dennis

benmlee2
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Re: Takes Time
benmlee2   6/6/2012 1:50:54 PM
This particular electric car is not a "status car". There are electric cars like Tesla or Fisker Karma that actually look exotic, and people admire. RAV4 is just not one of them.

There are people who only do things when "camera is rolling". Many people will also pick up plastic bottle on a remote trail when nobody is watching. They will also carry the extra weight to take the trash out. It take many of the second type of people to make a good society.

GlennA
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Different priorities, other statuses
GlennA   6/6/2012 2:45:12 PM
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BenMLee2;  Yes, there are many different types of people.  When I heard that the all-electric Rav4 was coming out, I wanted to find out when and where.  Even though I wouldn't pay the current price, I was disappointed that it is supposed to be for the California market only, not sold nationally.  There are people that separate their recyclables, while for others everything is trash.  I was passed by a Cadillac Escalade a few days ago, and I noticed the 'Hybrid' marking.  I don't know if anyone else noticed it.  I drive an Aspen hybrid, and I notice other Aspens, and Durangoes, but I haven't seen another Aspen Hybrid.

The all-electric Rav4 will not be completely invisible.  The owners will have certain people stop them to ask about their EV.  And that does carry a certain 'status' in certain circles.

Bunter
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Re: Takes Time
Bunter   6/6/2012 4:12:00 PM
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Hi Ben,

Thanks for your thoughts. I think you are equating status with showy or noticeable.  GlennA's examples demonstrate that the "in crowd" for a given product will know.  And those are the "ones that matter".

It is easy to see status seeking in other groups and miss it on our home turf-we all like to picture "our group" as the "normal ones".  Personal example-I ride a '98 VFR (Honda).  I get a little kick out of the fact that it is a V-4 not an inline-4 engine like other sport bikes.  I don't care if others notice but I know other Viffer riders "get it".  There's more. The '98-'01 VFR motors had gear driven cams-more exclusive yet. Again, it matters not if others note it, "we" (gear cam VFR owners) see ourselves as a separate group.  In fact I like that it is a low-key, publicly invisible form of status-that is appealing to me.  And others.

E-RAV4 guys will notice each other and all the other EV enthusiasts will notice them. Status.  It is not necessarily bad-it just is.

Cheerio,

Dennis

cvandewater
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Re: Takes Time
cvandewater   6/6/2012 7:17:15 PM
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Funny you mention BMW and EVs. I happen to own 2 5-series (540i and 530i) one automatic, one stick shift. However, I drive to work in my EV (old converted Ford truck). why would I? Driving it should not be possible according to some the truck should not be viable - it only has 40 miles of range, but because it has a standard 110V plug, I can literally plug in everywhere (even at work) so it is no issue to commute and even the occasional errand can easily be included. Probably in future the truck gets upgraded to better batteries, but for now it does what I need it for - allow me to drive around town without tailpipe. I smile more in the truck then when sitting in traffic idling the BMW V-8 engine.

Now, if I happen to go on a road trip, that is another story.

If you can't afford to have more than one car, then the easy solution is to get an EV for daily use and rent a petrol/diesel-burner for long trips. That may cost as little as $20 for a whole day so there is not really a need to keep an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car around if you have little use for it.

Regarding RAV4's sitting on lots? Time will tell. As remarked before, earlier RAV4EV were in such high demand that there is little chance to find one unused sitting on a lot. If you know of one, tell me.

Charles Murray
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Re: Takes Time
Charles Murray   6/7/2012 6:57:29 PM
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Dennis, I agree with you. Different groups measure status differently. I've said before: EVs are high-end cars with consumers who have a new definition of luxury.

Bunter
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Re: Takes Time
Bunter   6/8/2012 10:46:52 AM
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Thanks Charles.

Dennis

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