Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday the electric version of its RAV4 SUV will cost $49,800 when it goes on sale this summer. That's more than double the $22,650 starting price of the gas version, although the electric RAV4 will be eligible for $7,500 federal tax credit that will narrow the gap.
The electric version of the popular SUV will go around 100 miles on a charge. It takes six hours to fully charge it using a 240-volt charger.
The RAV4 EV widens the electric choices for U.S. buyers. Until now, the only electrics on the market were small cars like the Nissan Leaf and high-end sports cars from Tesla Motors. The RAV4 is the first electric SUV. Tesla designed and built its battery and drive system under an agreement announced two years ago.
Toyota's initial sales goals are modest. The company expects to sell only 2,600 RAV4 EVs over the next three years. By comparison, it sold more than 15,000 gas-powered RAV4s in April.
"We believe that the RAV4 EV will attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius," said Bob Carter, head of the U.S. Toyota division. "It's designed for consumers who prioritize the environment and appreciate performance. We look forward to seeing how the market responds."
Sales will be limited, in part, because the vehicle will only be available in certain markets. California will be first, with sales in four markets, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, starting later this summer.
The RAV4 EV's price tag also could hurt sales. It costs $14,600 more than the Leaf and $10,000 more than the Chevrolet Volt or the electric Ford Focus. The electric Focus also costs more than double the gas version. Focus EV sales have been modest since the car went on sale late last year.
Electric vehicles also have been slow to catch on in the U.S. because of the limited charging infrastructure. General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. both fell short of their electric vehicle sales goals in 2011.