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.
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.
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.
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