Toyota Boosting RAV4 EV Sales With $299 Per Month Leases

It looks like Toyota is finding it harder than anticipated to sell its Tesla-powered electric RAV4.

Bloomberg first revealed that Toyota Motor Corp. is discounting its all-electric RAV4 through low-cost lease and loan offers to boost demand for the slow-selling compact crossover.

Through an offer officially valid until September 3, Toyota is promoting the option of a $299-a-month, three-year lease for the $49,800 light truck, or a 60-month, no-interest loan.

Toyota said when launching the electric RAV4 in September 2012 that it would sell 2,600 units before the end of 2014; as of the end of July 2013, 709 units were driven off the lot.

The offers are available only in the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions, the vehicle’s main markets.

The 2013 electric RAV4 has a range of about 100 miles per charge and is still based on the previous generation RAV4. A new generation of gasoline-powered RAV4 with revised looks was launched for the 2013 model-year.

“The use of our incentives is tactical, reinforcing our value and focus on keeping our products competitive in the market,” said Carly Schaffner, a company spokeswoman. “We’re still evaluating the market demand for EVs.”

Through the special offer, customers can lease a 2013 RAV4 EV for $299 per month for 36 months, before taxes; this lease price takes into account a $15,400 “Bonus Cash” and a $3,999 down payment (see screen capture of the www.buyatoyota.com website). In other words, Toyota is lowering the price by more than 15 thousands for those who decide to lease.

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Screen capture, www.buyatoyota.com website, August 27, 2013, 10:00 am.

Bloomberg noted that Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co. similarly have turned to discounted leases to boost sales of their electric vehicles.

Toyota, with the biggest market share in California, is under pressure to sell the most rechargeable vehicles in the state to meet strict emissions rules. Along with the electric RAV4, Toyota sells a plug-in version of its Prius hybrid to meet state rules and will add a hydrogen-powered electric sedan in 2015.