The company sets its sights low with its new EV.
Despite being one of the early leaders in electrification with hybrid models like the Prius, Toyota still does not offer an all-electric vehicle in the United States. The 2022 Toyota bZ4X will be the company's first EV since the Rav4 Electric as part of a new sub-brand of bZ models, but it probably won't be a sales hit. Speaking with Automotive News Europe, Toyota Europe CEO Matthew Harrison said the bZ4X be a low-volume seller.
"We haven't really given pricing to the markets and validated the volume distribution," Harrison responded when asked about sales predictions. "I think it's safe to say that we still expect the Rav4, in hybrid and plug-in form, to be the dominant model in this segment through to 2025."
Even the plug-in Rav4 Prime is currently built in low volumes due to supply issues. Toyota has sold just under 10,000 Prime units as of July 2021, which is a small percentage of overall Rav4 sales. It's hard to predict how well the bZ4X will sell, but we imagine it will be a more niche model even compared to the Rav4 Prime.
The Rav4 was the best-selling non-pickup truck model in the US and ranked fifth in crossover sales in Europe, where the Volkswagen Tiguan was the number one seller. Toyota sold a whopping 430,387 Rav4s in the US during 2020; by comparison, the Tesla Model 3's best sales year was 167,500 units in 2020. The Japanese automaker clearly believes EV adoption is not at an acceptable level, so it will continue investing in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Toyota's bZ (Beyond Zero) lineup will expand to seven vehicles by 2025, long before Biden's push for the US auto segment to be 50% all-electric by 2030. "We have a strategy that says we build where we sell, and certainly that volume of sales would necessitate local production," Harrison explained. "We will bring some zero emission vehicles into the lineup prior to 2025, but not at the volume that it makes sense to initially produce locally."
After 2025, Toyota may invest more heavily into EVs. "We're expecting to see further acceleration from 2025 to 2030 - this is when we'll really see the more dramatic shift in terms of full electrification," Harrison added.