Tesla Confirms 2014 Death of Toyota RAV4 EV

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 69

Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV - Powered by Tesla

Toyota RAV4 EV – Powered by Tesla

In its recent Q1 filing, Tesla Motors announced that it will fulfill its deal to supply Toyota RAV4 EV components sometime in 2014.

Back in 2012, Toyota inked a deal with Tesla calling for the electric automaker to supply components for 2,600 electric RAV4 EVs.  Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, had expected Toyota to expand upon that initial agreement, but the Japanese automaker is instead moving towards fuel-cell vehicles, so the death of the RAV4 EV is near.

Per Tesla’s Q1 filing:

“Toyota is expected to end the current RAV4 EV model this year… our production activities under this program are expected to end in 2014.”

As of April 30, 2014, only 1,006 Toyota RAV4 EVs remained to be sold out of the initial 2,600-unit deal for the US.

Toyota spokesman, John Hanson, commented:

“This was a project for a specific number of vehicles that we planned to sell for a specific number of years.  We have not made any announcement about the relationship or what we’ll do with Tesla in the future.”

The much-loved RAV4 EV is the non-Tesla badged range king of the automotive world.  Unfortunately it’s only sold in California and is strictly a compliance EV.

Next year, Toyota moves fully into launching its hydrogen fuel cell sedan.  It too will be a California-only compliance vehicle.

Source: Bloomberg

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69 responses to "Tesla Confirms 2014 Death of Toyota RAV4 EV"

  1. Big Solar says:

    Toyota stinks.

  2. DaveMart says:

    ‘Next year, Toyota moves fully into launching its hydrogen fuel cell sedan. It too will be a California-only compliance vehicle.’

    Hardly.
    They are releasing in in Europe and Japan too.
    You are not really in danger of falling off the edge of the world if you go outside the boundaries of the US.

    1. Gsned57 says:

      You are also not in danger of falling off the edge of the world in a fool cell vehicle because you’ll run out of hydrogen and have nowhere to fill it long before that happens.

      1. DaveMart says:

        What has your dislike of the technology to do with whether this is being produced solely for the purposes of compliance or represents Toyota’s idea of how to electrify?

        No doubt you know far better than the 500 engineers that they have working on fuel cells, and more experience than Toyota who only introduced the Prius, but they are doing what they think will work.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Eric (I believe) was only speaking context for the fuel cell release in the United States, as the story is most directly in reference the RAV4 EV…which is only available in the US.

          But yes the FCEV will be available in more locations around the world. Toyota will be releasing the FCHV in limited amounts in the places where fuel cell subsidies/grants have been prevalent and says they plan to sell “tens of thousands” by 2020.

          1. DaveMart says:

            In my view Eric’s description of the vehicle as being a compliance vehicle, although of course it will cause them to comply just as the Leaf does for Nissan and the Model S does for Tesla, is tendentious when the vehicle is clearly not being made for that purpose.

            The Rav 4 EV was indeed produced for the purposes of compliance, as Toyota said, as are other vehicles such as the Honda Fit.

            They are releasing the FCEV where there are hydrogen pumps to fuel it, which is pretty unsurprising.

            If the term compliance vehicle is to have any relevance it must surely apply solely to small production runs done with that specific purpose in mind, not to a billion dollar effort which took 20 year or so, way before the Californian regulations with which it complies were even a glint in anyone’s eye.

            In my view that sort of description is applied due to a dislike of the fuel cell technology, and does not in any way throw any helpful light on what is going on in the car industry.

            Now maybe Toyota is wrong and fuel cell technology will not take off.

            That does not mean that they have developed and are to release this car for the purposes of compliance, and categorising it in that way is unhelpful.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              I believe for now, it is accurate to call the release of a Toyota FCEV in the US a compliance vehicle, as it is displacing a vehicle build solely to fulfil that duty.

              Now as you say, they have been working on FCEVs for decades, so it perhaps can be looked at a compliance vehicle of opportunity?

              I would suggest that if there was no ZEV/ARB credit for a FCEV that we would still see the RAV4 EV (or another EV) in California; and a far less aggressive/much more expensive introduction of the FCEV here. For example the Hyundai Tucson would probably be a very limited lease for more than $499/month.

              It seems odd (at least to myself) that a technology that has been in the works for decades as you note, only now is showing up en masse in California at exactly the time it gets 9 ZEV credits a pop and has the ability to displace another compliance requirement.

              Regardless on my opinions of the tech, I think one has to side on the fact that FCEVs are still a product of R&D incentives and compliance…now one could also argue that same point for plug-in cars as well, but that we are just further along that road today and are seeing results.

              Although I personally believe the prevalence of an existing worldwide infrastructure of much cheaper ‘refuelling points’ for EVs makes them less ‘compliancy’ and a much sharper stick out of the gate than any other newly introduced transportation technologies to replace petrol.

            2. Brian says:

              What is wrong with disliking fuel cell technology? In my view, it may be better than petroleum, but it is worse than batteries. We all (on this site) tend to agree that we should be getting off of petroleum. But that doesn’t mean that gasoline isn’t an incredibly dense fuel with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of smart people working to better understand it an use it more efficiently / effectively.

              The long and short of it is, hydrogen is either produced from a fossil fuel such as methane, or by a renewable fuel through hydrolysis. In the first case, it still carries all of the baggage of petroleum – finite resources, global warming, etc. In the second case, it is far less efficient than storing that electricity in a battery, which means that we have to produce even more electricity for a FCV than for a BEV.

              Could fuel cells win the future? Absolutely possible. But I personally hope not (and if they do, it better at least be in a Volt-like format where I can charge off my solar panels for my daily needs).

              1. Priusmaniac says:

                +1

                Now it is even worse, it is either Alberta tar sand made, Mideast fossils made, German coal made, Russian gas made or US fracking gas made. You choose, either way it is not good to reduce global warming and is not renewable at all.

                1. TomArt says:

                  It can be done renewable, but it requires a whole cycle of technologies that are not well-developed, like algae and large, integrated and buffered renewable electricity generation.

              2. Mike I says:

                I’m no fan of hydrogen, but fossil source and electrolysis are not the only two pathways to Hydrogen. There is an existing plant in Orange County, California that uses Bio-Gas from a municipal waste treatment plant to generate heat, hydrogen, and electricity.

                http://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-applauds-world-s-first-fuel-cell-and-hydrogen-energy-station-orange

                1. Brian says:

                  Ok, change the term “fossil fuel” to “hydrocarbon fuel” and my point still stands. And yes, biogas may be “renewable” (to a point), it is not scalable. You kind of get what you get, and that’s about it.

        2. pjwood says:

          Complete failure could have nothing to do with “500 engineers”, any more than CNG cars have anything to do with the hard working talent behind them.

          It may not be util the EPA stickers arrive for Chevy’s Impala, or whatever Toyota will name its 2015 FCEV, but their fuel costs are most likely to at least double the per mile costs of electricity.

          I sleuthed a bit over the weekend, and its OT, but I understand natural gas travels pipes at roughly 60PSI, while CNG is 3600PSI, leading to a big chunk of the reason it can be marked more than double the commodity cost (or for that matter >2x NG used in electric generation). Not having to do a dog and pony show with commodity fuels is something engineers may not get around.

        3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          Assuming $4.50/mmBtu for natural gas, how much does it cost per mile for H2 in a fuel cell that comes from reformulated natural gas?

          Cuz if H2 filling stations ever deploy in the US, they will be on the back of natural gas infrastructure.

    2. Gsned57 says:

      You are also not in danger of falling off the edge of the world in a fool cell vehicle because you’ll run out of hydrogen and have nowhere to fill it long before you get there

    3. JakeY says:

      The Spark EV is sold in other countries too, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a compliance car. If a car is not offered in states outside of the CARB states, it’s safe to assume it’s a compliance car (not a general release car) as that shows the car’s prime reason for existence in the USA is to get CARB credits.

      You bring up the Leaf and Model S as possible compliance vehicles. The Leaf does satisfy Nissan’s credit requirement but Nissan sells so many in the US beyond the requirement that it’s clear the credits are not the main goal. Plus Nissan is willing to sell it in US states where they get zero credits.

      Tesla’s Model S is not compliance vehicle under any definition given Tesla doesn’t have a compliance requirement as it has no ICE car for sale (Tesla sells of all its credits).

  3. Cavaron says:

    Future historians could likely identify this decision as the downfall of the company.

    I wonder how quickly and well they could switch from HEVs and HFCVs to BEVs when they realize, that this is the way to go. Since they use electric motors, I guess it will be all about the batteries then…

    1. DaveMart says:

      Pretty similar to their efforts with the Prius then.

      It is amazing how many folk on blogs know far more than those scientists at the DOE and almost all the major car companies.

      1. Big Solar says:

        Because doing the best thing for everyone is their top priority??

      2. Boris says:

        I agree with DaveMart here, this I believe is a simple business decision. Toyota and Honda believe in one thing while Nissan and Tesla believe in another. None of them are looking at today but 10 years into the future.

        Even when Tesla builds the GigaFactory, 1kwh will still be at around $200, so whole pack around $10K. This means that there will simply have to be another battery breakthrough in the next 10 years which will cut the cost down by another 50%, only after that will we be able to say that BEV cars won.

        1. pjwood says:

          A $10k pack cost is only relevant in a ZEV mandate world. A $4k pack cost could do 70-90% of the job.

        2. Mint says:

          $200/kWh is roughly today’s cost. The Gigafactory should bring it down to $150/kWh.

          A $10k battery isn’t a deal breaker anyway, especially since there’s no engine or transmission in there either. All you have to do charge virtual $3 e-Gallons over the life of the car (40 miles per e-Gallon guaranteed, so cheaper than gas). Strike a deal with utilities to pay them 5-10c/kWh for EV night charging, and the EV makers gets a 15-year revenue stream of $1000/yr.

          That lets EV makers give customers a $5-10k discount up front.

        3. Josh says:

          I still believe Toyota’s EV plan would be to buy Tesla. They are better positioned to give the FCV they have developed a shot right now. If it can’t gain traction vs. BEVs, they gobble up Tesla and retain their lead in electrification.

        4. JakeY says:

          “This means that there will simply have to be another battery breakthrough in the next 10 years which will cut the cost down by another 50%, only after that will we be able to say that BEV cars won.”
          Assuming your numbers are true, do you mean “won” vs ICE or “won” vs FCVs? Even with current prices EVs are winning against FCVs.

          If you are talking about ICE, I don’t think even under $200/kWh is necessary. Looking at the Leaf, their current 24kWh pack is $375/kWh and from recent news a double sized 48kWh pack using gen 2 cells would cost at most $5k more, taking that down to $290/kWh.

          That means keeping the current 24kWh would result in a pack cost of $7k and total car cost of $27k. The 48kWh version would have a pack cost of $14k and car cost of $34k.

          $200/kWh would mean $10k pack cost for 50kWh and car cost of $30k. I think that’s more than enough to take the market by storm, esp. if the federal/state credits still exist.

      3. Cavaron says:

        Uhm, sorry. I thought words like “could (be)” instead of “will (be)” do indicate that one is speaking hypothetical and won’t result in people think of one as a know-it-all…

        About hydrogen – let all the costs for production, transport and storage aside, imho BEVs would still win, because of the easy and cheap possibility of home fueling. Thats a hypothesis too, but I think a potentially good one.
        Another hypothesis could be, that there will cheap solar-combined hydrogen storage home units which could be used to generate electricity, heat or for fueling a FC-car. It’s Possible.

      4. Koz says:

        You would think at least one of those learned people would be able to articulate the case for it better. I have not seen one statement, announcement, study, or other that accurate explains how HFCV’s are a superior solution when viewed in its entirety, I.e. including all aspects of the vehicle, its production, fuel production, fuel distribution, and fuel supply.

        Didn’t Wang, Commodore, RCA, Westinghouse, etc, etc have a lot of engineers when they went belly up? This is saying that Toyota is going belly up anytime soon, but it does show that large numbers of purely directed engineers (or scientists for that matter) might not find marketable solutions.

        I am all skeptical ears for a cogent and cohesive case for HFCV’s, including the fuel.

      5. BraveLilToaster says:

        https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-authority

        Sorry, but there have been more than enough collapsed bridges out there to demonstrate that engineers are not, in fact, infallable.

        The fact is that FCVs offer no real benefit to the public beyond the warm fuzzy feeling people get from believing that their car isn’t polluting. The fuel cells are expensive, the fuel is expensive, and the infrastructure required to get that fuel to the public is also expensive (and as a result, not likely to be particularly widespread). If you’ve been watching the media and “The coal-powered EV” meme, you can guess at the level of scrutiny that FCVs will get, and it will quickly become apparent that the FCV is probably worse than gasoline, and far more expensive to boot. I have every expectation that the project will explode spectacularly seconds after launch.

        EVs in comparison, have the benefit of cheap maintenance, cheap and already-plentiful infrastructure, and cheap fuel. Their single disadvantage over gas cars is the time it takes to refuel them. Tesla has already demonstrated that this limitation can be overcome with existing technology.

  4. gigglehertz says:

    “This was a project for a specific number of vehicles that we planned to sell for a specific number of years.”

    We all knew it but I believe they just officially admitted it was a compliance only vehicle.

    1. DaveMart says:

      Toyota has in no way changed their position, and have never said that it was anything but a stop gap whilst they completed the development of their fuel cell vehicles.

      What they have said is that they have been pleasantly surprised at how rapidly fuel cell technology is developing and costs dropping, which no doubt contributed to their decision not to extend the RAV 4 contract with Tesla at all.

      1. Big Solar says:

        I dont think that makes fuel cells a great idea though.

        1. Anon says:

          +1

          It doesn’t. It’s just Toyota has a better economic case for obtaining carbon credits using compliance fool cells, thanks to CARB.

          1. Koz says:

            +100

    2. Big Solar says:

      Yeah, I like the car too. I bet you could squeeze 200 miles from it in town.

    3. Tim F. says:

      Toyota’s official stance was always “we’re testing it out in California and will consider expanding it to other areas if demand warrants”, when in fact as we all know they did everything they could to stifle demand and prevent people who wanted to buy it in other states from doing so. Thus, their self-fulfilling prophecy comes true and they are ending production.

      1. Anon says:

        +1

        Not unlike GM with their corporate culture back during the EV-1 days…

      2. QCO says:

        Agreed, Toyota’s statement is insincere. The RAV4 EV was never anything more than a cynical grab for credits without engineering investment, which is counter to the original CARB intention.

        The fact that so much attention is given to this “novelty car” does a disservice to the Electrification Cause. I, and the other 300 million North Americans living outside California, are tired of hearing about it.

        The only positive is that Tesla found a way to bone them for a few million $ of third party components.

      3. cmg186 says:

        Source? The official stance that I have always seen/heard is “we are producing 2600 Rav4 EVs”. I’m confused as to why this is even making the rounds as “news” today.

  5. taser54 says:

    Consumers didn’t exactly flock to this vehicle. Beer money, champagne taste.

  6. Nelson says:

    Ten years from now the argument between FCV drivers EV drivers will be regarding oxygen use.
    My home solar panel powered EV does not extract oxygen from the air to move your fuel cell does.

    NPNS! SBF!
    Volt#671

    1. Anon says:

      +1

      Indeed.

    2. QCO says:

      Interesting point… Presumably a “responsible” future FCV owner would have to plant some trees, although that’s no different than oxygen consumption in the petroleum ICE case today.

      Note this would not apply for the electrolysis case since equivalent oxygen is created prior to consumption.

    3. Just_chris says:

      True but extracting oxygen from the air is marginally more environmentally friendly than extracting lithium from open cut mines.

      1. Raymondjram says:

        That Lithium is extracted just once per vehicle. Fuel Cells will extract oxygen all the time! Electricity is safer and easier to use, and every home has a “filling station”: an outlet in the garage. And electricity can be generated almost for free if you have solar or wind generators at home. Can you generate hydrogen at your home?

  7. Brian says:

    So Toyota is taking a calculated risk. They are going with the technology they know, and have developed expertise for in-house. They can always return to Tesla for batteries in the future if the fuel cells don’t work out for them.

    1. Big Solar says:

      True, I hoped they had wanted better air to breathe sooner but saving money is probably better than cleaner air.

      1. Brian says:

        That’s capitalism for you.

      2. kdawg says:

        They can probably make masks out of those Yen. Especially if they keep devaluing their currency it won’t be worth the paper it’s made of.

        1. Nick says:

          That just means we’ll be able to buy cars from them for need to nothing. Perhaps that’s how they will be able to sell an affordable fuel cell powered car.

  8. Priusmaniac says:

    Toyota now appears so much against electric vehicles, that it sounds so unreal, that the reality could well be the exact opposite. A secret starting block massive all electric vehicles production by surprise. A hint could be their new range extender free piston generator, which would be perfect to help Toyota’s version of an Camry EV without the limitation of a Nissan Leaf.

    1. Alan says:

      Pet peeve – a fuel cell vehicle *is* an electric vehicle. The main difference is the source of electricity. Do fuel cell vehicles have some battery capacity to take advantage of regenerative braking – like a hybrid? I’d hope so.

  9. Phatcat73 says:

    Resale on these will be pretty well.

  10. Eric, do have have a link or reference for this statement, since it have never seen anything from Tesla or Toyota even suggesting that the car would be extended past it’s 2012-2014 compliance year duty of 2600 total units.

    “Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, had expected Toyota to expand upon that initial agreement, but the Japanese automaker is instead moving towards fuel-cell vehicles, so the death of the RAV4 EV is near.”

  11. koz says:

    Good riddance. Tesla doesn’t need to support Toyota or any other manufacturer with compliance or extremely low volume components any longer. Only serious players need apply at this point. If not, Tesla has plenty of capital, name recognition, access to additional capitol, and other areas that their time and energy will be better spent.

    Bring on FCV. No complaint hear. I just don’t want a dime spent of taxpayer money spent on it for the consumer vehicle market. It makes no sense on multiple levels. Until it can be made sense of with realistic data or even a path for it to possibly make sense some day then I won’t support it even if there were 1,000,0000 engineers for Toyota being paid to work on it. The first path would involve an overly abundant and cheap energy source to generate the hydrogen.

  12. Tesla Model S says:

    Couldn’t justify spending 50k on a “Toyota”

    and a generic looking SUV, not worth it in any way

    1. acevolt says:

      Its not a $50K vehicle when you consider Toyota’s $16,500 in incentives toward a RAV4EV lease (until June 2), plus California’s $2500. It’s really a $30K EV with the best range of any non-Tesla EV. This vehicle should be selling a lot better than it is compared to the other EV’s out there.

  13. Kosh says:

    Besides all the issues of FCHEV vs BEV, the one biggie (to me at least), is control.

    With a BEV, I can gain better control of my fuel chain. Electricity is cheap, it’s regulated, and I can afford to generate my own with fuel cells. I get rid of “da man” that you are forever enslaved to (and at the whim of) with either ICE or FCHEV.

    This aspect should not be underestimated.

  14. TomArt says:

    About 10 years ago, the ASME magazine did a whole extensive analysis on the potential of a hydrogen-based economy (instead of the hydrocarbon-based economy we have now), and with the understanding and tech of the time, the authors determined that the benefits would be marginal at best, not the least of which was due to either taking the energy-intensive electrolysis path, or taking the petroleum-based path, to generate the hydrogen in the first place. I wish I still had that article (I might, somewhere…). It would be interesting to see how much has held true so far, and how much was off-base due to changes in tech.

    I think that it could be done. I read on GreenCarCongress about a year or so ago, that Audi has come up with a fascinating ethanol-based system, where the cycle included electricity generation and algae and such, where the wholistic cycle ended up being near carbon-neutral. They have a facility in Germany and a facility in the mid-western US that are operating, as far as I can recall. I didn’t like the fact that there was still combustion involved (cars running on ethanol), but it was an interesting concept that integrating promising, useful tech across all stages of the energy and fuel generation would result in an essentially carbon-neutral transportation cycle.

    1. TomArt says:

      Still, the elegance and simplicity of BEV transportation is the most effective way to go. Electricity is (almost) everywhere, and the grids are greening up (throughout the developed world, at least).

      And, ultimately, the face of transportation will have to change from auto-based to mass-transport. Europe already has moved in that direction, but here in the US, our transportation situation is very inefficient and poorly developed.

  15. Priusmaniac says:

    That is a completly different case. Ethanol could serve very well as a renewable fuel and it could be used in a direct Ethanol fuel cell which would serve as a noiseless electric vehicle range extender, the battery being the main energy source.

  16. MoxP says:

    You learned gents who are bashing Toyota do know that their current CEO is an engineer that was largely responsible for the Prius.
    I would place his knowledge and long term influence in the automotive industry above Musk’s. Time will tell but given recent sales trends and present financials my bet is on Toyota.

    1. Unplugged says:

      Engineer, smagineer. It makes no difference. Toyota is backing the fuel cell because they can claim that Toyota tried to comply, but the cost was just too much and the technology just too difficult. Toyota isn’t trying to make a viable fuel cell car, they are trying to show how it won’t work.

  17. evnow says:

    Comments here prove there are still some die-hard fans of fuel cells. Fascinating.

  18. CherylG says:

    California law states a minimum of 1/3 of the hydrogen provided by California hydrogen stations must be from renewable sources.

    Hydrogen made completely from natural gas produces approximately the same total emissions per mile as charging a plug-in vehicle when electricity generated from natural gas. Given the high use of coal used to produce electricity in this country, and the dramatically increasing use of coal in other parts of the world, Fuel Cell vehicles offer a distinct advantage.

    Fuel cell vehicles can get greater than 300 miles of range with less than a 3 minute fill.

    Speaking of lots of range in a short time, where is Telsa’s network of battery swap stations?

    1. Alan says:

      I’m not sure if fuel cells ultimately last, but I’m glad there’s a serious effort. Personally, I wonder if the way forward would be battery cars with fuel cell range extenders. If they get the cost down for both, people could plug in for their daily commutes, while depending on fuel cells for longer drives. Under such a system, you would only need a few fuel cell stations along interstates before they become practical. I just see fundamental problems with charging cars for hundreds of miles in just a few minutes. Battery swaps are logistically complex.

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        Have some patience we already have superchargers at 100 KW, we will soon have hyperchargers at 1000 KW and in the mean time a Rex like in the BMW i3 or better yet the direct free piston one of DLR or Toyota can do a perfect job.

    2. Priusmaniac says:

      Producing electricity by burning fossil gas is a bad idea and doing it by burning coal is suicidal since coal is the best carbon storage form one could think off. CO2 striped from its precious Oxygen, and the remaining carbon buried deep in the ground in a compact and stable form.

  19. Kent says:

    Since Toyota is getting out of the EV business, I wish they would cancel the frickin’ PiP (not all Prius’, just the PiP). There’s nothing more frustrating than to see a PiP hogging a charging station all day when it only gets a few miles of range. What a joke!

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      I am very skeptic that Toyota is getting out of the EV business and for the PIP I would rather see them ten folding the EV range then cancelling it.

  20. Chris O says:

    I agree with Eric that the Toyota HFCV is strictly a compliance car. Even Toyota freely admits that the technology is at least 15 years away from commercial viability. The only reason it is now introduced in highly subsidized form on a very small scale is that it has become an effective way to comply now that the hydrogen lobby has effectively worked over CARB to favor hydrogen over battery electrics in its ZEV credit count methodology.