LA Auto Show 2019: Toyota’s RAV4 hits its Prime

The RAV4 Prime could be headed for Singapore. Here’s why it should…

LOS ANGELES — This might sound strange, but Toyota has no battery electric vehicle (BEV) on sale, and only one plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the Prius Prime.

This new plug-in RAV4 Prime changes things, offering around 62km of range on pure electric power, with a 2.5-litre petrol engine for longer distances. 

For a company so outwardly committed to the environment, though, surely Toyota is lagging in the electrification race? Not so, according to Toyota itself.

Having pushed hybrid cars since 1997’s Prius (the brand now calls them “self-charging hybrids” since they don’t have to be plugged in to recharge), Toyota has put more than 13 million petrol-electric hybrids on the world’s roads. The company argues that cumulatively they’ve had a far bigger impact on cutting emissions than pure electric cars, which still sell in relatively tiny numbers.

That’s a fair argument; carmakers are in a rush to meet a strict 95g/km CO2 fleet average limit that comes into force in Europe in 2021. Toyota insiders say it’s already compliant, without a single electric car in its range. Meanwhile, the headlong rush to put electric cars on the road by other carmakers is mostly because they badly need zero-emissions cars to lower their fleet averages.

In any case, demand for electrified cars is rising, so the RAV4 PHEV could be a ploy to make a popular car even more popular; the RAV4 was the world’s best-selling SUV last year.

As for whether you’ll be able to buy it in Singapore, a source from local distributor Borneo Motors says the company is exploring it, but it ultimately depends on whether Toyota makes it an option for our market.

Even non-hybrid fans might be interested in the car, however, since it’s actually the most powerful RAV4 available, with 302hp under the bonnet. It jumps to 100km/h in roughly six seconds.

Although unlikely to sell in huge numbers, the RAV4 Prime would at least help to raise awareness of Toyota’s Green credentials in Singapore. If you’re going to excel at something, you might as well let people know about it.

about the author

Leow Julen
CarBuyer's managing editor is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 25 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.