Early in the last decade, Toyota got a lot of credibility from electric vehicle advocates for actually selling many of its RAV4-EVs rather than just leasing them and crushing them. Many of those vehicles are still on the road today and fetch a fair chunk of change when they show up on eBay. The same fate seems unlikely to be repeated for the next round of Toyota EVs. In an interview with CNN Money, Toyota's Bill Reinert explained that the automaker does not intend to sell its next EV outright.
The battery-powered urban commuter will have a range of about 40 miles and should debut in about 2012. Toyota's corporate policy remains skepticism toward EVs in general and Reinert does not diverge on this count. According to Reinert, Toyota plans to go with a pay-per-use type model, leasing the car based on how much it is driven. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has implied that his companies intend to do something similar after launching a range of new EVs over the next several years. This may actually be a good idea since it takes into account some of the limitations of EVs.
Reinert emphasizes that the range estimates being provided for many of the upcoming battery vehicles are wildly optimistic and consumers need to be informed of the limits of batteries. Without that, disappointing results could scuttle a nascient market segment.