- the united states was originally set to get 5000 of the new-for-2021 rav4 prime plug-in hybrid in 2020, but the number may be lower and that’s going to make it tough for some to get the new suv.
- most of the phev suvs will be sent to regions where toyota's hybrids already sell very well.
- there have been reports that dealerships may resort to charging more than msrp for the vehicle if demand is high enough, but dealers we spoke to were not saying they'd do so.
the rav4 racks up impressive sales numbers. in 2019, 448,071 were sold, making it the top-selling non-pickup vehicle in the united states. toyota's rav4 hybrid outsells the entire prius lineup. so, now that toyota has decided to combine that pedigree with its plug-in-hybrid technology, the rav4 prime seems like a guaranteed smash hit. the only problem, toyota's original target of 5000 vehicles is likely to be missed.
toyota spokesperson nicky hamila told car and driver that "unforeseen battery supply constraints" are putting a damper on the automaker's plans. hamila continued that it "may limit our initially planned production volume for calendar year 2020."
the automaker says the rav4 prime will start arriving in the u.s. this month, but it looks like it'll have limited availability. the result is limited supplies, sellouts, and potentially, prices above the msrp of $39,220.
"our plan is to allocate rav4 prime to all states as efficiently and strategically as possible, while also meeting our regulatory zev [zero emission vehicle] requirements by prioritizing specific regions with a higher demand for plug-in vehicles," hamila said.
in other words, toyota won’t be sending an equal number of rav4 primes to all dealerships. the automaker will focus on making sure that markets where its rav4 and hybrids already sell very well and meet regulatory requirements. other areas might be hankering for a hybrid suv, but it's where the big sales happen that toyota will be favoring at first.
nate morris of molle toyota in kansas city, missouri, told car and driver the dealership expects to get only a couple of rav4 prime vehicles but is waiting for updates from toyota. morris did note that he's aware most rav4 primes will be heading to the coasts. as for charging over msrp, morris says that upper management will make that decision when the vehicles come in.
being near an ocean (more specifically california, where automakers need to meet zev requirements) doesn't necessarily mean that securing one of the phev suvs will be any easier. san francisco toyota sales administration manager russ mobley told c/d that based on initial deposits, the dealership is already sold out for the remainder of the year but assured that for those and future customers, the dealership has no plans to charge more than msrp. "toyota knows the value of its vehicles," mobley said.
last month, the san francisco dealership sold 137 rav4 hybrids. the plug-in prime version of the suv should do well in the region, he said, saying, "we have a very receptive base in san francisco."
on the other side of the country in milford, connecticut, at colonial toyota, operations manager barry haughton is expecting good demand for the vehicle. like san francisco, colonial toyota won't be charging a premium for the rav4 prime. the dealership "generally doesn’t do that on high-volume vehicles," houghton said.
that doesn't mean every dealership will adhere to this. dealerships can charge whatever they want over msrp. it’s typically seen with low-volume performance vehicles such as honda civic type r and the corvette c8. a plug-in-hybrid suv typically doesn’t fall into that category.
but with the ability to accelerate quicker than the four-cylinder supra 2.0 in some instances and an ev-only range of up to 84 miles, the rav4 prime is getting a lot of attention. unfortunately, its limited numbers for 2020 mean that attention could make it a tough vehicle to come by no matter where you live.