The new vehicle is the first battery-electric car that Toyota has produced since that time.
It did not say how much its new lithium-ion battery will cost, but Hartline indicated that the earlier projection of $1,000/kWh by its engineers still isn't far off. "That's the benchmark we've always used," she said. "Battery chemistry has improved, but even with a lot of research and a lot of resources, the cost hasn't come down that much."
If the price of the RAV4 EV is an indicator, the cost of batteries may not have dropped much from Toyota's earlier projection. At $49,800, the new vehicle costs about $15,000 more than a Nissan Leaf and $10,000 more than a Chevy Volt, both of which employ considerably smaller battery packs. (The Volt's battery is 16 kWh; the Leaf's is 24 kWh.)
Critics have complained about the price of the new vehicle. Forbes.com called it "stratospherically priced," and a Wall Street Journal reviewer wrote, "Sure, lithium-ion batteries are expensive, but prices are falling and, well, I just don't see where the expense lies."
Toyota says that it is accurately targeting a small cadre of customers who are hooked on the idea of an electric powertrain. The new vehicle offers a multitude of luxury features, including LED projector headlights, LED running lights, variable front seat heaters, navigation, telematics, and a capacitive touch screen, along with the all-electric drive system.
"It feels luxurious," Hartline said. "It's a niche vehicle for sophisticated early adopters."
For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some cars are more reliable than others, but even the vehicles at the bottom of this year’s Consumer Reports reliability survey are vastly better than those of 20 years ago in the key areas of powertrain and hardware, experts said this week.
As it does every year, Consumers Union recently surveyed its members on the reliability of their vehicles. This year, it collected data on approximately 1.1 million cars and trucks, categorizing the members’ likes and dislikes, not only of their vehicles, but of the vehicle sub-systems, as well.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
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