Tesla to Stop Supplying Batteries for Toyota EV

The RAV4 EV debuted in 2012 in California, and the automaker expected to sell 2,600 units to fleet and retail customers.

May 13, 2014

2 Min Read
Toyota RAV4 EV sales 1594 through April WardsAuto data shows
Toyota RAV4 EV sales 1,594 through April, WardsAuto data shows.

Tesla says it will stop supplying lithium-ion battery packs and electric motors for the Toyota RAV4 electric vehicle this year, concluding a supply pact that was only to run for three model years, ’12, ’13, and ’14.

"We're (targeting) 2,600 units and committed to the next three years, generally speaking,” a Toyota U.S. official said in summer 2012 at the media launch for the vehicle.

The RAV4 EV debuted as a ’12 model and only is sold in major metropolitan areas of California, such as Los Angeles-Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco, and via vetted Toyota dealers.

WardsAuto data shows that through April Toyota was well off its 2,600-unit target, selling only 1,594 RAV4 EVs total. The RAV4 EV’s best month was August 2013, with 231 sold.

The non-EV RAV4 typically sells upwards of 10,000 units per month.

While Toyota denied it, many in the industry saw the model as a compliance vehicle, or a way for the automaker to meet California’s strict emissions requirements.

The RAV4 EV has an EPA-estimated 103-mile (166-km) range. A unique feature of the CUV is that it can be charged in one of two modes, standard or extended. Standard charges the 41.8 kWh battery pack to 35 kWh, which preserves battery life, Toyota said in July 2012.

Industry watchers have criticized the EV’s starting price, $49,800, as being too high, but Toyota said it is well-equipped for the wealthy customer it is targeting.

“We see customers pretty high-end, maybe similar in profile to a Lexus customer, so I think all things considered, (including) what you're getting with the product, we think it’s priced right for the market in California,” Ed Larocque, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.’s national marketing manager for advanced technology vehicles, told WardsAuto two years ago.

Toyota is denying the end of the RAV4 EV is nigh, with a spokesman reportedly saying the model line will continue.

The No.1 Japanese automaker previously stated it was pulling away from its modest EV plans and putting more effort behind hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, which it sees as a better long-term solution to reduce pollution and increase fuel efficiency.

Tesla, in which Toyota has a 2.4% stake, is seen as needing all the battery packs it can get for its ambitious expansion plans, which include retailing its own electric CUV, the Model X, in 2015.

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