California electric vehicle maker Tesla may have no problem selling its sleek, futuristic Model S sedan, but other carmakers are having a tough time gaining significant traction with their full-electric vehicles due to customer concerns over short range and a high initial purchase price. Toyota is now joining the electric discount fray with a $299 per month 3-year lease deal on the all-electric version of the 2013 Toyota RAV4 SUV. The company is hoping the affordable monthly payment will make the vehicle more attractive to customers put off by its high $49,800 MSRP.
The special deal will be offered only in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan regions of California, two of the nation's largest markets for EVs. Since the current-generation RAV4 EV came to market in September 2012, Toyota has delivered only 709 units. Ironically, the vehicle features a significant amount of Tesla technology and engineering. Toyota made a $50 million investment in Tesla in 2010, following a meeting between Toyota president Akio Toyoda's meeting with Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk. Thanks to the meteoric rise in Tesla's stock price over the past year, Toyota's stake is now valued at an estimated $483 million.
The current RAV4 EV is the second version of the all-electric SUV. The first-generation RAV4 EV was sold from 1997 to 2003. The first-generation model featured a nickel-metal-hydride battery, with a range of approximately 100 miles.