With the addition of the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid to the Prius Prime, Toyota has blown away its prior annual record for US sales of plug-in vehicles, more than doubling its prior best year, selling more than 52,000 vehicles. This isn’t too much to brag about compared to Tesla, but compared to other manufacturers, it’s good. I.e. Ford sold 27,000 of their Mustang Mach-E. For comparison, GoodCarsBadCars estimates US Tesla sales for 2021 at ~302,000.
With the accelerated pace of sales, Toyota is likely to pass the threshold of 200,000 sales that will trigger phase-out of the US federal tax credit currently available for both models, $4500 for the Prius Prime with its smaller battery, and the max $7500 for the RAV4 Prime. Following the quarter that the threshold is passed, Toyota plug-in buyers will get the full tax credit for two more quarters, then it drops to 1/2 then 1/4 the value for two quarters each.
Toyota is scheduled to begin selling their first battery powered EV (non-hybrid) middle of next year, a CUV with the awkward name of bZ4X. Looks like the first US buyers may still be able to take advantage of the full tax credit if things stick to schedule. Toyota developed the bZ4X in collaboration with Subaru, and Subaru will offer a twin branded under their name. The tax credit should be available for some time to come on that Subaru version. This is all assuming the tax credit program isn’t changed.
Ongoing electrification of the US auto fleet is a macro issue. Toyota has been vilified for being slow to embrace the EV revolution, and Tesla ate a big chunk of their luxury auto/SUV market share because of their slow roll-out. But, the huge, conservative and massively successful Toyota is making progress, and it should accelerate next year, with better availability of the RAV4 Prime and the introduction of the bZ4X. Critics of Toyota can take a look at the scoreboard for a reality check: $27 billion net profit in the trailing 12 months.
I’ve personally been slightly tempted to buy a new RAV4 Prime, despite being a confirmed used car consumer in the past. The $7500 tax credit would help defray that new-car depreciation. But, starting at $39,000 + $1,200 destination fee plus dealer markup due to rarity (my local dealer is adding a modest $1,000), I guess it’s too rich for my blood.