Jun 12, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Toyota plans to recall all existing leased RAV4EV electric compact SUVs when their leases expire. Electric vehicle advocates, after engaging with the company privately without success, went public with their Don't Crush Campaign: more info at http://www.dontcrush.com .
Here's CalCars' statement of support:
The California Cars Initiative, a driving force for the development of 100+MPG plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), urges Toyota to allow RAV4EV drivers to keep and purchase their zero-emission, zero-gasoline cars. In doing so, we join many electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid car owners, advocates for solutions to global warming and energy independence, key public officials and national organizations.
We urge Toyota, as a long-time leader in introducing advanced technology, clean vehicles to a worldwide market, to recognize that it is in their interest to keep these cars on the road.
And who better to continue driving them than their current leaseholders? In the case of fleet vehicles, these cars should be offered first to individuals in those companies, then to the public, including those who missed out on them a few years ago, and would jump at the chance to buy one now.
Many resourceful RAV4EV drivers fully power their cars by residential solar energy -- so they contribute no greenhouse gases or emissions. One of these passionate drivers -- echoing Charlton Heston's memorable words, has said, "you'll have to pry my keys from my cold, dead hands."
Ford listened to its customers and agreed to sell Ranger EVs to leaseholders. Will Toyota do as well? Ford got satisfactory releases from liability and responsibility for lifelong service. Will Toyota accept the same deal?
We are especially pleased that California EPA Secretary Alan Lloyd, who was Chairman when the Air Resources Board offered Toyota incentives for introducing RAV4EVs, has encouraged the company to remain "a shining beacon of developing products to meet consumer environmental and economic goals" by saving these cars. And California Senator Sheila Kuehl has appealed to Toyota to maintain its "image of corporate responsibility and concern for public health" by allowing people to drive cars that help keep California's air clean.
While Toyota seems to treat these cars as black sheep, we at CalCars see them as triumphant pioneers. They have paved the way to plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) that operate as pure EVs for local travel but have the extended gasoline range of any hybrid. (EV advocates point out that as PHEVs gain acceptance, they may in turn create conditions for the eventual return of production EVs.)
To CalCars, these vehicles have been strategically important:
- At a time when reducing dependence on imported, high-emissions gasoline should be a national priority, high-performance EVS and PHEVs could enable Toyota and other automakers to begin to promote the benefits of electric fuel. We envision car companies replacing "you don't have to plug it in" ad campaigns with "our cars re-fuel at home."
- Many studies cite RAV4EVs' efficient 300-400 watt/hours/mile to prove that an EV, two-thirds cleaner when measured "well-to-wheels" than a gasoline car on California electricity, produces 40% lower CO2 emissions even when powered by the "dirty" (half coal) national grid.
- RAV4EV batteries turned out to last far longer than the projected 75,000 miles. These deep-discharge packs, designed over five years ago, demonstrate that today's battery technologies are quite adequate for the even less demanding requirements of PHEVs.
- When RAV4EV batteries in utility fleets approached 125,000 miles with little degradation, new calculations by the Electric Power Research Institute in 2003 showed that PHEVs, when mass-produced by car companies, will have a lower lifetime cost of ownership than gasoline or non-plug-in hybrid cars.
- RAV4EVs were a successful conversion project by an auto maker. Toyota's "extension" of an existing line of vehicles helped inspire CalCars to embark on PRIUS+, which then led EDrive Systems to go into business selling conversions.
RAV4EVs had been forgotten by the general public. Today, their proposed fate threatens, as Alan Lloyd says, to "tarnish the image" of the maker of the world's most advanced hybrids.
Recently, studies, public officials and the national media have begun to focus on PHEVs' promise. CalCars' 100+ MPG cars have been recognized as the platform for 500MPG gasoline cars (with most of the power coming from cleaner electric power and biofuels). And Toyota has evolved in some of its public statements from skepticism about PHEVs to "we're listening."
We hope Toyota will heed so many voices and save these hundreds of great RAV4EVs. If they do, their happy customers will praise Toyota's cars to the world for years.