Earlier this week, Toyota unveiled a portion of the RAV4’s next wave of updates for the 2022 model year. This prompted us to question whether the marque’s local arm is still pursuing the RAV4’s plug-in hybrid variant, sold in some overseas markets.
Plug-in hybrid SUVs are tipped to be a big market in New Zealand in the coming years, thanks in part to the government’s Clean Car Discount, which currently offers a $5,750 discount on all new PHEVs priced under $80,000.
Mitsubishi seems to be making the most of this space at the moment, via its Outlander and Eclipse PHEVs. MG’s new HS PHEV is slowly but surely following in its ZS EV’s footsteps on the sales charts. More niche models like the Mini Countryman Hybrid have also enjoyed success.
In late 2019, Toyota unveiled the RAV4 Prime; its plug-in hybrid answer to the likes of the aforementioned Outlander and the first plug-in RAV4. It combined the familiar 2.5-litre petrol engine with dual electric motors.
Pure electric range is rated at 63km, with outright consumption estimated to be about 2.8L/100km. All up, it produces 225kW of power, ironically making it the second quickest car Toyota sells to do the 0-100km/h sprint (performing the feat in 5.8 seconds).
So, a fairly compelling package then. Toyota New Zealand has long made its aspirations to add the model to its range clear. With the model’s first update just around the corner, one might ponder whether that might trigger the PHEV’s arrival.
But, according to a Toyota New Zealand spokesperson, the wait is set to continue. “In regard to the RAV4 Prime, we are still trying to secure this as part of our model line-up however no confirmed launch date yet,” they told NZ Autocar.
The spokesperson added that the 2022 RAV4 updates detailed earlier this week, which include new headlights, wheels, and LED fog-lights are all destined to appear on local models. “We will be able to confirm more details closer to the New Zealand launch,” they said.
Given the lengthy past waiting lists for mild-hybrid RAV4 variants, and the nameplate’s position as New Zealand’s most popular SUV, it begs the question as to why the Prime hasn’t been sent our way yet. Hopefully, fresh local legislation can turn the tide.