Toyota Rav4 Prime - Great Concept Not so great delivery

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
Long in 1997 before Tesla in the early era of electric vehicles Toyota made a battery EV RAV 4 for leaser in CA they didnt lease many (1400) . The ones that did make it out in the market were very popular (but pricey), off lease ones ones when they came up sold for about the original asking price. No doubt Toyota lost money on everyone they leased but it bought them some PR. Subsequently Toyota has been in the hybrid market with the Prius for years and has dipped their toes into the market with the Prius prime but their corporate policy is that an all battery drivetrain is not a good fi and they are banking on fuel cell hydrogen technology.

They did recently come out with the Rav 4 Prime. Its good fit for my use and lot of others as its a SUV AWD chassis (Priuses are miserable in areas that get snow due to low ground clearance and tight fenderwells that can ice up). The RAV4 is plug in hybrid with 40 miles of EV capacity. This gets rid of range anxiety for us rural folks but gives us enough power for electric local runs. For those who want fast acceleration its got quite bit of power (obviously at a cost of gas and battery range). It also still qualifies for the $7.500 federal battery credit. I do a lot of outdoors trips (precovid) and many of my destinations do not have plug in options and if I add in occasional stops for battery charging it cuts down on my range substantially for weekend and day trips. It also fits into my current work which is mostly from home but soon to be frequent 400 to 500 mile day trips to check on projects every couple of weeks.

So its sounds intriguing and may be worth taking a further look. I start checking availability and quickly find "limited availability in most markets". For the first model year they are shipping a grand total of 5000 of these to the US with most going to California. Supposedly it may be less as they have Covid issues in the supply chain. This of course is buried way down in the advertising. They claim that next model year they may ship 20K of them. The dealers know it and many have 10K markups on the few that are out there.

Sure looks to me like advertising and they really could care less about actually selling them.:( No doubt the Prime will be to get folks in the door and then they will be pointed at the mild hybrid version without the battery pack.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,373
SE PA
Totally agree. Compliance car. For now.

Year ago folks were saying that all the (non-Tesla) EVs were concept cars, sold in <10k/yr amounts. the LEAF, Volt and Bolt got up to 20k-ish. I scoffed. Now I'm not so sure.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
808
SE North Carolina
I’d be interested in an electric hybrid that seats 6 plus a dog crate and could tow 4000 pounds. Looks like the 2021 Sienna is hybrid..... just let me pay off my current van and then keep it long enough to feel I got all my money back from the extended warranty they sold me.... we own a RAV4 FWD love it if was a plug-in!
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
I think I saw the Rav 4 Prime rated for 2500 pounds. Usually the limiting factor is frame strength and braking capacity.

With respect to CA specific EVs, claims are made that the major revenue source for Tesla US and the new plant in Germany is payment from other auto firms so they do not need to build EVs. At one point Fiat was selling a electric in CA and the CEO claimed they were subsidizing it for double its sales price.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,373
SE PA
I think I saw the Rav 4 Prime rated for 2500 pounds. Usually the limiting factor is frame strength and braking capacity.

With respect to CA specific EVs, claims are made that the major revenue source for Tesla US and the new plant in Germany is payment from other auto firms so they do not need to build EVs. At one point Fiat was selling a electric in CA and the CEO claimed they were subsidizing it for double its sales price.
Sure. The increasing CAFE standards (now likely reinstated) require the auto makers to either sell fewer gas guzzling trucks (a profit center) or sell tiny high MPG gas econboxes or competitive EVs. Or they can pay Tesla for credits if they don't.

I think this is (regulated) capitalism in action. But it does mean that the majors can lose money per EV they sell, and it still makes sense by offsetting some of their credit purchase budget.

Part of the problem is amortizing engineering costs by small sales numbers. That was never going to make sense. Getting the sales volume up is key for the majors to make a real go and stop subsidizing Tesla. But then they need to buy batteries from somewhere, and the supply on those is limited, esp for the cutting edge ones. Quite a bind.

And the pressure keeps building with the higher CAFE mandates.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
I found one. Delivery next week. When I get the eventual federal EV credit its the same price as a regular Rav 4 hybrid. Now I need to add some phantom dependents onto my tax withholding so I do not need to wait until next tax season to get a big check back.

They are just trickling into dealers and most only get one of each model and they are not on the floor long. The early ones seem to all have factory sunroofs but not a lot of other options (they are pretty well equipped to begin with). The one slight downside its just a 120 VAC charger so 12 hours for a charge. The 240 volt version is only available in the XSE model that are a minimum of $5,000 bucks more. My guess is when folks get back on the road and with the chip shortage slowing down car sales means it was better now than 6 months from now.

One odd thing is its the second most powerful Toyota car sold when the engine and batteries both being used.
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,373
SE PA
The one slight downside its just a 120 VAC charger so 12 hours for a charge. The 240 volt version is only available in the XSE model that are a minimum of $5,000 bucks more.
I assume you mean the external 'charger' or EVSE is 120V only. You can get a 120/240V portable one for about $100-$150. I never got why the makers cheap out and give you a crappy 120V only one....I have upgraded a couple over the years. In fact I have a spare 240V one I can mail you for free from my totalled Bolt. LOL.

What is the max charging power at 240V?

Google says base model is 4 kW ([email protected]) and the high end trim is 6.6. Decent.
 
Last edited:

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
Once its in the driveway I will figure it out. Bummer on the Bolt, If the batteries were not trashed keep the wreck and salvage the batteries. I think the reason for 120 VAC is it does not require a 240 VAC plug in the garage. I have 100 amp subpanel with 240 VAC welder plug ready and waiting.

Here is an interesting question. I live on steep hill that is about 400 feet elevation above the local town. Its got a runaway truck ramp at the bottom. So If I fully charge the battery and then go down the hill, I normally would have regenerative braking to charge up the battery but if its fully charged my guess is the brakes get used?. So I may not want to charge it full so I have some room in the battery when I Ieave home.

I think the prime version is 18 KWh battery. A new toy to figure out;)
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,373
SE PA
You're right in general. Many EVs will use the mechanical brakes over regen when the battery is fully charged. So, sometimes EVs have a 90% charge setting for this contingency. But the EPA started to punish makers that did that, by reducing their useable range by 10%, claiming that the makers were inflating their 100% rating and telling users to charge at 90%. So many EVs now DON'T have that feature in the US (to make the EPA rating maximum) and damn the brakes!

You'll be lucky if the manual explains this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,955
Downeast Maine
You're right in general. Many EVs will use the mechanical brakes over regen when the battery is fully charged. So, sometimes EVs have a 90% charge setting for this contingency. But the EPA started to punish makers that did that, by reducing their useable range by 10%, claiming that the makers were inflating their 100% rating and telling users to charge at 90%. So many EVs now DON'T have that feature in the US (to make the EPA rating maximum) and damn the brakes!

You'll be lucky if the manual explains this.
Bureaucracy at its finest.

I hope you like the Rav4 Prime, Peakbagger. Our next new vehicle will be similar. I really like the idea of a PHEV being able to power the house in a power outage or if we get solar panels and go off grid.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
There is a company in NH that sells a plug in device for mostly Toyota products to act as a generator. They have 3KW version and 5 KW version. They output 240 VAC and the kits includes and autotransformer to output 120 Volts. The claim is inveter based generators are more efficient over the long run but using the hybrid based generator is more efficient than a standard generator. I think the kit is around $2,500 bucks. I have 20 year old Generac in my garage that I have never had to hook up for power outage.
 
  • Like
Reactions: woodgeek

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,373
SE PA
Yeah, I wouldn't pay $2500 for that, or $10-20k for an automatic natgat genny for that matter. My $500, 1500W sine wave rig on the EV 12V is more than sufficient for my needs, but I have an extended outage about once a year it seems.

Can't wait to hear the user report peakbagger!
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,955
Downeast Maine
I'm hatching birds and a power outage could kill the whole hatch or hatched chicks. We have a small generator, but a PHEV could power the whole house. burns gasoline cleaner and more efficiently, and puts out enough power for the whole house.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
5 KW is borderline for house if you have a deep well pump
 
  • Like
Reactions: woodgeek

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH
I didn't realize the deep well pump would pull more than 5kw at a time.
If you have a good clampon meter, you can measure the running load and multiply by three to get surge amps. Or the conservative approach is three times nameplate.

I probably have mentioned before if you have three wire deep well pump (one with capacitor box where the wires go out to well), you can convert the pump to variable speed drive using something call a Franklin Electric monodrive. It effectively gets rid of the surge amp concern. The pump last longer as it rarely ever goes full speed. If you have one of these, and avoid electric resistance heat, 5KW is plenty for most homes if you get rid of the pump surge load.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SpaceBus

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,955
Downeast Maine
If you have a good clampon meter, you can measure the running load and multiply by three to get surge amps. Or the conservative approach is three times nameplate.

I probably have mentioned before if you have three wire deep well pump (one with capacitor box where the wires go out to well), you can convert the pump to variable speed drive using something call a Franklin Electric monodrive. It effectively gets rid of the surge amp concern. The pump last longer as it rarely ever goes full speed. If you have one of these, and avoid electric resistance heat, 5KW is plenty for most homes if you get rid of the pump surge load.
Thanks, I'll look into it.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,351
Northern NH