Toyota RAV4 EV Electric SUV: Now With Cash-on-Hood Deals

There’s no arguing the fact that Toyota’s RAV4 EV is an impressive car, with a Tesla-engineered drivetrain and battery pack. But it’s also a low-volume compliance car, sold to meet tough California zero emission mandates for automakers.

Tempted by a Toyota RAV4 EV? Now could be the time to buy -- or rather lease -- one.

Tempted by a Toyota RAV4 EV? Now could be the time to buy — or rather lease — one.

Sadly for Toyota, the RAV4EV hasn’t sold as many units as it would like, overshadowed by less expensive cars like the Nissan LEAF and more capable cars like the Tesla Model S.

So now Toyota is doing the one thing it knows will sell more cars: put money on the hood.

An American tradition for as long as cars have been sold in dealerships, cash on the hood deals are often used when an automaker or dealer has too many cars in inventory that they need to sell before the model is replaced or a newer version is released.

In this case however, Toyota is putting money on the hood deals forward as a way to ensure that it meets the 2,600 car RAV4 EV sale target set by Californian law by September 2015. At the end of last month, only 1,525 examples had been sold.

When you consider the Toyota RAV4 EV in its base-configuration starts at $49,800 plus a mandatory $860 delivery fee, it’s hardly surprising: most customers who can afford that kind of money for a plug-in car are skipping Toyota altogether and opting for the far longer-range, supercharger-ready Tesla Model S sedan instead.

The Toyota RAV4 EV packs plenty of space into its frame.

The Toyota RAV4 EV packs plenty of space into its frame.

As Green Car Reports reported earlier today, Toyota is offering a whopping $16,500 in lease incentives to Californians who are willing to sign up for a RAV4 EV by the May 5. The specifics of the lease deal are more than a little complicated however, with the incentive being made up from various smaller incentives designed to reduce the overall cost to the customer.

These range from money off the first month of lease payment, to reduction in capital cost, registration and licensing fees. In addition, the incentives help offset California’s complicated taxation system, which varies greatly from county to county and city to city.

It’s worth noting too that the incentives are aimed at those wanting to lease — not buy — their Toyota RAV4 EV. Since Toyota offers a wide range of lease mileage options ranging from 10,000 miles per year to an ‘unlimited mileage’ option, that will likely suit most buyers.

Under the hood is a Tesla-engineered drivetrain.

Under the hood is a Tesla-engineered drivetrain.

For those worried that they won’t get to buy their car back at the end of the lease or perhaps haven’t forgotten Toyota for its previous misdemeanours involving the previous-generation Toyota RAV4 EV, Toyota is offering just $2,500 in purchase incentives on top of the usual Federal and state incentives.

That’s hardly a good deal compared to the $16,500 off being offered for lease deal customers.

Either way, if you’re good with maths and can figure your way through the complex and confusing Californian tax laws and Toyota incentives, there might be a deal to be had.

If you’re tempted, let us know. We’re keen to see just how much your monthly payments work out to be.


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  • Ad van der Meer

    Wow, another EV without fast charging capability that doesn’t sell well. I wonder why?

    • Dennis Pascual

      The RAV4EV 2nd Gen at least charges at 40A/10kw. Additionally there is a group working on aftermarket enabling this car to use CHAdeMO. nnIt’s a tempting ride that many former ActiveE drivers have chosen this route vs the i3 route. In fact many of the higher mileage ActiveE folks have chosen this vehicle to replace their AEs.

    • liuping

      it does not sell well because: 1) it’s over priced, 2) the sales people don’t even want to sell it, 3) hard to service (only select dealers can touch it) , 4) limit availability to California, and 5) It will end production soon, leave you with an under supported orphan vehicle. nnThose are just a few reasons off the top of my head. And yes, I looked at them seriously, but even with the incentives, could not bring myself to buy a car the Manufacture does not want to make/maintain.

  • vdiv

    Toyota has a winner with this car and it is really sad that they would not sell it world-wide. Yes, fast charging would make it even more attractive, and yes, certain reliability concerns that some have experienced can be addressed, but for a lack of trying this car is really good.

  • Curtis

    We have one. It is fantastic. We replaced our 12 year old 2002 RAV4 EV with it, and that was easily the best car we’ve ever owned. 120 miles of range is real. It’s big, spacious and fast. The leases come at 0% interest and, with $2.5k in California incentives the net cost of the car is about $32k. nnToyota may be guilty of orphaning two fantastic cars in the two generations of RAV4 EVs, but they aren’t guilty of stealing them back. We bought our 2002 off the end of the lease, as every first generation buyer was eligible to do and we plan to do the same off this lease in 2.5 years. nnIf it needs as much service as our first generation, I’m confident we’ll be able to find a mechanic somewhere willing to change the wiper blades and rotate the tires.nnFinally, why on earth would I want the unlimited mileage lease? With 120 miles of range and no fast charging it would be quite difficult to put more than 10,000 miles a year on it.

    • Dennis Pascual

      Curtis, with my Active E, I put in an average of 27,000 miles with an 80-100 miles of range. Several of my fellow high-mileage Active E drivers moved over to the RAV4EV 2nd Generation unlimited mileage leases.nnnSo, with a 120 miles of range, I think I would’ve been able to do at least 30,000 miles a year.