Toyota’s Historic Failure With Its First Electric SUV Was a Catalyst

Remember the Toyota RAV4 EV? Plenty of consumers have never heard of the short-lived electric vehicle because of how quickly it was discontinued. The RAV4 EV crawled so the Toyota bZ4X electric SUV could run. The electric SUV’s epic failure paved the way for future success thanks to some tough lessons for the Japanese automaker.

The first Toyota electric SUV was a historic flop

RELATED: 3 Reasons the Toyota bZ4X Could Be the Best New Electric SUV

Toyota’s first electric SUV model was the RAV4 EV. The RAV4 EV was an electric SUV inspired by the RAV4 that used Tesla battery technology. In theory, the RAV4 EV had the makings of a popular model. The reality was that consumers found the electric vehicle to be impractical because of its limited capabilities.

Range anxiety played a huge factor in the RAV4 EV’s demise. Toyota produced RAV4 EVs from 2012 to 2014. Consumers avoided the RAV4 electric SUV because it only had a driving range of 103 miles. Today, most popular electric SUV models can travel for at least 200 miles before needing to recharge.

The world wasn’t ready for an electric Toyota SUV, and frankly, the SUV wasn’t ready for mass-production because of its poor range. Toyota’s two year-long failure and the discontinuation of the RAV4 EV taught the Japanese automaker some hard lessons about rolling out an electric SUV.

The Toyota bZ4X benefits for the brand’s experience with the RAV4 EV. The poor reception of the RAV4 EV showed Toyota that it needed to do more than just electrify a popular nameplate to win consumers over.

The Toyota bZ4X is the cornerstone of Toyota’s electric future

RELATED: Toyota Once Partnered With Tesla to Make a Disappointing Electric RAV4

Toyota hasn’t rushed its second electric SUV model to market, and with good reason. It’s clear that rivals like the Mach-E will offer quicker acceleration and more “wow factor”. Electric SUVs like the Kia EV6 are also shaping up to be competition in the emerging segment.

Toyota is targeting the same audience that is does with the current most popular SUV, the RAV4. The brand has its eyes set on consumers looking for the most affordable and practical option. The bZ4X may pale in comparison to flashier EVs, but Toyota is focused on value over shock value (no pun intended).

The bZ4X is the cornerstone of Toyota’s electric future and the beginning of the brand’s Beyond Zero Initiative. The electric SUV is ushering the company into the electric future. Toyota has learned from the RAV4 EV’s failures and created an electric SUV with practical driving range that’s built to last.

The RAV4 EV may have been an epic fail for Toyota, but it was a learning experience that has clearly inspired a more competent electric vehicle. One of the company’s greatest failures could help propel its new electric SUV to unfathomable heights.

Should you buy a 2023 Toyota bZ4X?

A silver 2023 Toyota bZ4X electric SUV is driving on the road.
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X | Toyota

RELATED: Does the 2023 Toyota bZ4X Have a Heat Pump?

Toyota has yet to release a price for the 2023 Toyota bZ4X. Car and Driver estimates that the electric SUV will start around $37,000. Federal electric vehicle tax incentives could bring the SUV’s price down closer to $29,500.

Toyota is partnering with EVgo to offer free fast charging to bZ4X buyers for an entire year. The electric SUV seems like a sweet deal, but it’s still too early to judge. One thing’s for certain, the bZ4X has much more staying power than the company’s first electric SUV.

RELATED: Toyota bZ4X Battery Could Retain 90% Capacity After a Decade