Fluke? Electrified RAV4 Outsells Normal RAV4

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fluke electrified rav4 outsells normal rav4

Please don’t send us emails complaining about the use of the word “normal” in a headline. Yes, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is still a RAV4. Yes, it has every right to exist, and it makes its parents proud, each and every day.

Especially lately, given that the electrified version of the country’s top-selling compact crossover outsold its conventional sibling in June. Not that the hybrid RAV4 was a sales slug to begin with.

As Tim Cain told you late last year, the RAV4 Hybrid has pretty much replaced the once dominant Prius as the green car du jour in the Toyota lineup. And for whatever reason, June saw the RAV4 Hybrid beat out the gas-only RAV4 by nine units last month, Automotive News reports. There’s a first time for everything.

The 17,051 RAV4 Hybrids sold in June is a far cry from June 2019’s 9,013 units, or even the roughly 10,000 sold in December. But it seems more than likely that circumstance tilted the scales in the hybrid’s favor on a temporary basis.

As we noted last week, inventory data showed Toyota with the thinnest stock of all automakers at the end of June. According to Cox Automotive figures, Toyota’s average 30 days’ supply of vehicles was the least bloated in the industry, vastly undercutting the overall average of 70 days. Take a stable of mostly hot-selling vehicles, add a two-month U.S. production shutdown, then a not-immediate ramp-up, and try to come up with another result. It’s quite possible the dealer cupboard was close to bare in June, tamping down conventional RAV4 sales like an afternoon rain shower on a grass fire.

The same result could crop up in July.

Indeed, AN reports that some dealers marked down RAV4 Hybrids in June to compensate for their lack of of gas-only models. That said, the RAV4 Hybrid’s enviable fuel economy and sensible pricing ladder has earned the variant a consistent sales following, meaning dealers can be assured of steady volume regardless of which model they stock their lots with. Moving up to a hybrid variant in the absence of a purely internal combustion model isn’t a confusing or expensive step for an open-minded customer.

While overall sales are down across the industry, Toyota hybrids saw an uptick of 14 percent over the first half of the year, with more than half of the brand’s electrified vehicles sold being RAV4s. The plug-in hybrid RAV4 Prime arrives this summer to add further choice for green shoppers, though Car and Driver noted recently that battery supply issues could see this year’s American take of the PHEV model fall short of initial expectations.

It could be a while before the RAV4 Prime adds meaningful volume to Toyota’s U.S. sales sheet, though full production of the conventional model and continued production of the regular hybrid should eventually brighten the sale picture.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • CapVandal CapVandal on Jul 15, 2020

    If people won't pay $900 for a hybrid, they will never pay up, in mass, for BEVs, which are now about $10,000 more expensive, Toyota's mature hybrid system provides over 1/2 the purported benefits (primarily gas milage) of a full electric. The fact that they just aren't popular indicates that the "inevitable" move toward electrification isn't getting traction. "Toyota said Wednesday(in 2019) it will give royalty-free access to its nearly 24,000 patents related to electrification ..." Now Toyota is throwing in it's hybrid option for free and finally getting takers. Toyota is behind in the full electric segment, and making a last ditch attempt to popularize hybrids. I can see people gladly adopting for free, but not even $3,000.

    • Mcs Mcs on Jul 15, 2020

      "If people won’t pay $900 for a hybrid, they will never pay up, in mass, for BEVs, which are now about $10,000 more expensive," I'm not so sure BEVs are really more expensive than an ICE car. Traditionally, automakers have charged more money for better acceleration, smoothness, and quiet. 4 cylinder cars were cheaper than V6s, V6s cheaper were than 8s, and 8s cheaper than 12s. The premium power plants as you climbed the price scale gave you faster acceleration, more smoothness, and better torque. So, why should an electric that gives you acceleration in the 5 to 6-second range 0-60 cost as much as a 4 cylinder with a CVT that gives you 0-60 in the 8-second range with all kinds of noise and vibration? Compare a Honda Fit at 70 mph with a Chevy Bolt at 70. There's a difference. Compare the 3.2 seconds 0-60 of the $55k Model 3 Performance vs. the Hellcat Redeye at $70k with a 3.5 second 0-60. In this case, the EV is actually cheaper. When comparing BEV vs. ICE prices, you have to compare equivalent performance. You can't compare them directly with a slower, buzzier 4 cylinder with CVT. When you account for the faster acceleration, torque, and refinement, BEVs might not be more expensive than an equivalent ICE.

  • Pveezy Pveezy on Jul 21, 2020

    I am not totally surprised. I was pretty committed to a gas powered Rav4, but on the test drive I was pretty underwhelmed by the powertrain experience. It was ok... but just not great... the engine seemed loud but not too powerful, transmission was not that smooth, and steering was too light. Strange because it has the same or similar engine/transmission to the Camry which I think drives pretty great in its current form. So that might drive many to the Hybrid, not to mention fuel economy. But in my case, the Hybrid had waiting lists, high financing rates, no deals... so I moved on.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.