The discounts for its all-electric RAV4 are done through low-cost lease and loan offers and they intend to boost demand for the slow-selling compact crossover, powered by a Tesla Motors Inc. battery pack and engine.
Available only in the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions, the vehicle’s main markets, the offers run through September 3 and promote the option of a $299-a-month, three-year lease for the $49,800 light truck, or a 60-month, no-interest loan, according to the company’s website.
Toyota said last year it would sell 2,600 RAV4 electric vehicles by the end of 2014. At the end of July, just 709 had been delivered since sales began last September. Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have also turned to discounted leases to buoy their rechargeable models.
“The mass market, for the most part, has been reluctant to buy these products, given the high cost of the technology,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at auto researcher Edmunds.com. “Toyota may not have done enough to promote the car’s Tesla connection — does anybody know it’s a Tesla underneath?”
The battery-powered RAV4 arose from Toyota President Akio Toyoda’s desire to work with Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, led by Elon Musk. The project was announced in 2010, when Toyota also invested $50 million in Tesla. The electric-car maker’s shares have surged almost fivefold this year, boosting the value of Toyota’s 2.4 percent stake to about $483 million.