Demand for petrol-electric versions of the new generation RAV4 has caught Toyota by surprise.
The new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is sold out for up to four months despite only going on sale a month ago – and despite a significant price rise.
Customers are being told that if they order a RAV4 Hybrid today it won’t be delivered until “September/October”.
Dealers have told Toyota initially ordered a 44% mix of hybrid vehicles in the new RAV4 line-up but demand nationally is currently running at a 77% mix for hybrid variants.
Six of the 11 models in the new, fifth-generation RAV4 range are hybrid variants – including front-drive and all-wheel drive – and the company has phased out the diesel option.
The demand for the hybrid RAV4 matches unprecedented demand for petrol-electric versions of the new Corolla hatch and Camry sedan, both of which have waiting times of two to three months, depending on the model.
One major metropolitan dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, told : “On the one hand we’re stoked that there’s such strong demand and such strong acceptance of our hybrid technology, but on the other hand there’s concern that some customers won’t wait and will go off and buy something else.”
However, the dealer added, “most people we’re dealing with are happy to wait because they understand the technology and they want the fuel savings”.
Another dealer source says the prevalence of hybrid technology in taxis and ride-share vehicles has inadvertently helped “sell” the technology so more people understand it better.
“Pretty much every taxi you get into these days and a lot of Ubers are hybrid Camrys and people either see the fuel economy or ask the driver,” the dealer source said. “Then they realise that’s about half what their car uses and get sold on the technology that way.”
Toyota Australia has told its national dealer network that it has increased factory orders for hybrid variants of future models, however it will take up to six to 12 months for the increased stock levels to arrive.
Strong demand for hybrid variants means deals are slim on most petrol-electric Toyotas, with the exception of the Prius and Prius C, both of which have experienced significant sales slowdowns.
Toyota has sold more than 100,000 hybrid vehicles in Australia since the first Prius went on sale in 2001. The Japanese company has sold more than 12 million hybrids globally, including more than 5 million Prius vehicles.
Toyota Hybrid sales in Australia by model:
Prius C: 9,420
Prius V: 4,599
Toyota Hybrid sales in Australia by state/territory:
All figures as at April 30, 2019. Source: Toyota.
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This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling