MARK RECHTIN

Toyota wary of EV market claims

LOS ANGELES -- Some executives -- ahem, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn -- believe that electric vehicles can represent 10 percent of automotive sales in the not-so-distant future.

And while Toyota Division general manager Bob Carter isn't bearish about EVs, he certainly is wary of such claims.

"Clearly, we see a role for EVs in the market," Carter said before the unveiling of the RAV4 EV here. "We just see a more substantial role for hybrids and plug-in hybrids."

Carter said that "most people see EVs as the third car in the driveway." Add to that peoples' range anxiety, and a price tag approaching $40,000 before incentives, "and the air gets pretty thin."

After all, the Toyota Prius has been the runaway success among hybrid-electric vehicles, selling 115,000 units so far this year. But that represents just 1.2 percent of the overall light-vehicle market.

"We don't see it coming anywhere near 10 percent, short term," Carter said. "That's big numbers."

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