Toyota Motor Corp. on Monday unveiled what it says is the first all-electric sport-utility vehicle on the market, a version of its popular RAV4 with a top range of 100 miles and minimum six-hour charge time.
Initially, Toyota (IW 1000/5) will sell the SUV only in California, with a base price of $49,800.
The automaker hopes to sell a relatively modest 2,600 units over the next three years.
Toyota Motor Sales USA executive Bob Carter said the company believes the car will "attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius," Toyota's pioneering hybrid car launched 15 years ago.
"It's all about blending the best of two worlds," Carter said. " ... The all-new RAV4 EV marries the efficiency of an EV with the versatility of a small SUV.
"In fact, it is the only all-electric SUV on the market."
The car, which costs more than twice as much as the gasoline version of the RAV4 and would have difficulties with out-of-town driving for any distance, might struggle to find a mass appeal.
"It's designed for consumers who prioritize the environment and appreciate performance," said Carter, adding that the new car will go on sale later this summer in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.
"We look forward to seeing how the market responds," he added, unveiling the car at the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles.