Update: Toyota confirms the RAV4 EV will be available to the US-market general public. See bottom of email for full details.
Toyota has backed away from plans to sell its upcoming RAV4 Electric Vehicle to the public. Instead, the Toyota and Tesla co-developed electric SUV will be launched in smaller numbers, focused around "very strategic applications".
Reports from the US today suggest that the RAV4 EV will be leased rather than sold, in a program similar to Mitsubishi Australia's limited i-MiEV launch in 2010.
It is believed that Toyota will focus on corporate and government fleet customers, along with car-sharing groups. Toyota however has yet to reveal any specific plans for the electric SUV's distribution when it launches in 2012.
The news comes as Toyota and US-based Pike Research wrap up pilot testing for the RAV4 EV, which saw 160 vehicles used as daily drivers across the US.
The test program's full results have not been released, although Pike Research's Geri Yoza said that the test participants charged their RAV4 EVs more frequently than expected, at around 10 times per week.
The results also showed that the electricity cost, per vehicle, came to around US$150 for the entire six-week trial.
UPDATE: Toyota confirms the RAV4 EV will be available to the US-market general public.
“Recent reports have incorrectly stated that the 2012 RAV4 EV will only be marketed to fleet and car sharing programs," a Toyota statement today reads.
"We’d like to set the record straight. The 2012 RAV4 EV will definitely be sold to the general public. We anticipate robust public interest in the RAV4 EV and are keen to inform consumers that their future vehicle options include a battery electric Toyota."