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Tesla Signs $60 Million Contract With Toyota 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the electric-money dept.
thecarchik writes "Tesla Motors announced that it has reached a $60 million deal with Toyota to develop the powertrain for an electric version of the strong-selling Rav4 sport utility vehicle. A prototype RAV4 Electric will be unveiled by Toyota at November's Los Angeles Auto Show. The company plans to sell the electric RAV4 starting in 2012, the same year that a number of new electric cars will join the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt in the US market."
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Tesla Signs $60 Million Contract With Toyota

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  • It's about time that this finally happened. It makes sense that Toyota was the one to jump on this.

  • Excellent news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WebManWalking (1225366) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:18PM (#33925180)
    The resources of Toyota. The electric car know-how of Tesla. The factory's in the US and will create jobs here. Absolutely excellent news.
    • Re:Excellent news (Score:4, Informative)

      by GuyFawkes (729054) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:29PM (#33925250) Homepage Journal

      Smiths Electric Vehicles in the UK has been *continuously* making electric vehicles for over 70 years.

      If you want experience, go talk to Smiths, if you want marketing bullshit, go talk to Tesla.

      • by bsDaemon (87307) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:33PM (#33925272)

        Is that you, Mr Edison, behind that Guy Fawkes mask?

      • Smiths seems to be unable to convince both Toyota and Daimler that their drivetrain is ready to be used in mass-production, unlike Tesla.

      • Re:Excellent news (Score:5, Interesting)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:55PM (#33925420) Journal
        Yeah, and if we all want to drive a golf cart, we could have electric cars for everyone cheap. Smiths Electric Vehicles made milk delivery trucks, which were cool, and now they make vans and trucks that max out at 55MPH, and a range less than 100 miles. Maybe that's enough for you, but......

        Tesla cars have no problem doing 60 MPH, and they get there in under 6 seconds, even the 4-door. They have a range of over 300 miles. That's good enough for anything but cross-country trips. If anyone has swallowed the marketing, I'd say you have: it doesn't matter how long they've been building them, it only matters what they can build.
      • Smiths Electric Vehicles in the UK has been *continuously* making electric vehicles for over 70 years. If you want experience, go talk to Smiths, if you want marketing bullshit, go talk to Tesla.

        Were you aware that Smith (not Smiths) already has a partnership with Ford [hybridcars.com]? Furthermore, Smith already works with Ford in Europe [smithelect...hicles.com] to produce commercial electric vehicles on the Ford Transit and Ford Transit Connect chassis.

        And maybe (likely) it is an exclusive contract?

        Toyota clearly knows what it doing, sir.

      • I was referring to the 0-to-60 mph in 3.7 seconds know-how.
    • by peragrin (659227)

      yep all we need now is a viable power storage tech so you know can go more than 50-100 miles without needing a 6 plus hour recharge. Until we can find a power source capable of driving an electric car 200 miles at highway speeds they will be just a gimmick.

      • Re:Excellent news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:52PM (#33925396)

        Why do people keep saying this? Do you drive 200 miles a day at highway speeds? If not, then what's the problem? Drive it during the day and charge it overnight. It's 5 miles to my work, so I have 10/day there, and another 10 if I run a bunch of errands. So a car with a 30 mile range would let me do my normal routine without any worries and would include a 10 mile backup.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MoonBuggy (611105)

          That's quite reasonable, but you do then need a backup plan for the times that it becomes necessary to travel long distances. If the combined cost of an electric car and the power to run it was low enough, it could be reasonable to have a secondary car just for long distances, but in the current market one may as well just use the petrol driven car for day-to-day short drives too and skip the (significant) expense of the electric one. Public transport (bus, train, plane, whatever) for long distances and a h

          • Re:Excellent news (Score:5, Insightful)

            by WeatherGod (1726770) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @04:46PM (#33926142)
            My backup plan for long distances would be to rent a gas car. We already do this in a manner of speaking for very long trips. Do you own a plane for those once or twice a year trips to visit family, or do you do like everybody else and just buy a ticket?
            • by russotto (537200)

              My backup plan for long distances would be to rent a gas car. We already do this in a manner of speaking for very long trips. Do you own a plane for those once or twice a year trips to visit family, or do you do like everybody else and just buy a ticket?

              If I could afford the plane, I'd own it.

            • >>>My backup plan for long distances would be to rent a gas car.

              But in the future utopia envisioned by EV proponents, gas cars will no longer exist. Everyone will be driving electrics. You can't rent something that's no longer being made by Ford, Honda, et cetera.

              • Says who? Anybody that I know who is serious about the viability and practicality of EVs see the vehicles as replacing gas-powered vehicles only where it makes sense to do so -- not as some blanket 'one-size-fits-all' thing. I certainly do not see EVs replacing off-road vehicles, long-haul tractor trailers, and other such vehicles. Anybody who claims that EVs will totally displace ICE vehicles anytime in the foreseeable future is smoking some crazy stuff and/or is on the marketing teams for EVs. In eith
          • ...electric car...but in the current market...

            rimshot! [wikipedia.org]

        • Because sometimes its nice to go out for a drive on the weekends. 200 miles is only an hour and a half away from your house. So if you live in Silicon Valley and want to go hiking at Point Reyes (an excellent state park), you're not going to be able to make it on less than a 200 mile range. And that's for fairly close stuff still: if you want to go on a weekend trip to Yosemite, and lots of people do, forget it. You're stuck locally.

          Now, you might say, "get two cars: one for commuting and one for driving
          • Re:Excellent news (Score:5, Insightful)

            by vlm (69642) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:40PM (#33925720)

            Because sometimes its nice to go out for a drive on the weekends. .... So if you live in Silicon Valley

            There's no car rentals in all of Silicon Valley?

            I'll make an embarrassing public admission... I live in a house and ... gasp ... I drive a sporty little car. You should hear my older coworkers whine about my decision ... OMG what if you needed to get sheets of plywood from home depot? OMG what if a rugged dirt road mountain sprung forth from the earth in the middle of my commute and you don't have 4wd? OMG OMG!

            Well, I've found thru experience I can rent a giant truck in scarce minutes for practically nothing and I'm in the burbs. I would imagine city dwellers have it even easier. I would guess every other year I need to rent a truck for an afternoon. Its not an issue.

            99% of the time, I drive the car I WANT to drive, and the 1% of the time I NEED something else, I just rent the perfect vehicle for the job.

            The best part is my car payment and insurance bills are about half of my coworkers giant SUV payments. One months savings pays for a lifetime of truck rentals, the rest, every month, is pure gravy... which pays for those weekend getaways the SUV drivers can't afford...

            I would imagine the electric car situation is very similar. The fact that its not a road trip wanna be RV is a very rare and easily solved problem, anywhere you can rent a REAL RV.

            • by peragrin (659227)

              While i agree with you as I do that myself when I need to rent a truck, there is a mark difference in renting a Truck for a day and staying under the local mileage limits and renting a car for a day and paying by the mile.

              It goes to show that you haven't had to go to a car rental place recently.

              Also you can't rent RV's very easily. Most require special driver's licenses as they get treated like buses.

              • by AK Marc (707885)
                They make 8-person class-C RVs. Probably more, but that was just the first link I checked. So a person that passes the driver's license test in a Miata can, on the same license, drive an RV that sleeps 8.
            • >>>There's no car rentals in all of Silicon Valley?

              But in the future utopia envisioned by EV proponents, gas cars will no longer exist. Everyone will be driving electrics. Therefore you can't rent something that's no longer being made by Ford, Honda, et cetera. You won't be able to get further than 30 miles from your house for that hike in the mountains.

              Nope. The future is definitely hybrids - they have no range limits which is what Americans like.

          • You can average 133mph from Silicon Valley to Point Reyes? Thats pretty bad ass.

            In reality though it is 95miles (each way). And if you follow road laws it is 2.5hours each way ...5 hours total (aka more than 1.5...). AND Tesla vehicles CAN manage this trip.

            The example of the Yosemite trip IS something that the tesla couldn't do without charging. It is a 4 hour (200mi) drive each way. To make this trip you would have to stop for lunch to charge the car. And I find it unlikely that you will not be taking a
        • by peragrin (659227)

          actually I do.

          I am well known to drive the 90 miles (each way) to have dinner with my mother, play a round of golf with my father, and then drive home. On sundays i drive 60 miles just to spend a couple of hours having fun.

          I am also only 8 miles from work, but then twice I week I drive 40 miles a day for other things. two or three times a year I drive 400 miles each way to visit my sister.

          At the end of the year I only average 10k miles a year, however if I can't getup and go 200+ miles that day the car is

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by WeatherGod (1726770)
            Ok, so an EV is not the best tool for you. That's fine, and anybody trying to tell you otherwise is just as much a fool as those who claim that EVs are not viable for a significant portion of the population.
        • by Teckla (630646)

          Why do people keep saying this? Do you drive 200 miles a day at highway speeds?

          Because it's actually a pretty wise minimum requirement, for several reasons:

          1. Companies tend to exaggerate. If they say the range is X, you know the real range is X-Y. Look at how laptop manufacturers exaggerate battery life claims.

          2. Batteries become less effective with age, so you want some buffer room built in.

          3. Batteries become less effective in cold weather, so you want some buffer room built in.

          3. In cold and snowy weather, the kind of weather a lot of us "enjoy" several months of the year, you nee

        • I drive 120 miles a day at highway speeds. About 60% of the trip, the "highway speeds" are in the 75-80 mph range, and 16% is in the 8-24 mph range on bad days. Frankly, even though 75-80 is batshit insane for the traffic density, I suspect that driving slower unilaterally would be an even bigger mistake.

          So yes, I would require an electric car with a range of 200 miles on a fresh battery pack, since I'd want to be able to still make my commute when the battery pack is close to EOL. I cannot afford to liv

        • by 7-Vodka (195504)
          my car's range isn't cut in half when i turn the heat on.
        • by Shadow99_1 (86250)

          I live just shy of 40 miles from where I work (the city housing market is 5 times the cost of the same in a small town making it the only place I can afford to live), so I do between 80-90 miles a day on average and on the extreme can hit 150 miles in a day. A 100 mile electric would be pushing it for my daily commute. I'm hardly that much of an exception, I know lots of people near DC commute about as far. I know you say '200 miles', but what I've seen is closer to 100 than 200.

        • by nloop (665733)

          Your commute to work is 5 miles? Get a bicycle. You can get there in less than 30 minutes. You will save money and live longer.

        • >>>Do you drive 200 miles a day at highway speeds?

          Pretty close, yeah.
          .

          >>>So a car with a 30 mile range would let me do my normal routine

          But EVs tend to lose range as the batteries age, so while it might get 30 miles today, fast-forward ten years and you might only see 20 - just barely enough to make it to work with no room for error (like a detour due to an accident). People don't like having to fear their car might run out of juice and leave them stranded.

          In contrast my Honda Hybrid give

      • We already have that. It's called a lithium-ion battery. But it costs too much. We instead need a 50 mile pack that's dirt cheap. Like lead-acid. And a gasoline generator, so we never run out of range. That is the scheme that makes the most sense. A 50 mile battery pack (really cheap, lead acid, nickel cadmium or nimh) and a generator.
      • http://www.teslamotors.com/models [teslamotors.com]

        300miles > 50-100miles.
        45minute quick charge or 1minute battery swap > 6hour charge.
        120mph>highway speed.

        Any other concerns?
  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:27PM (#33925234) Homepage

    I'm a touch confused by this announcement.

    Toyota already sells the Rav4 as a full EV. I see them on the road regularly. Several bay area cities use them as official vehicles.

    On the other hand I am a Tesla fan, and I have owned several Toyotas so I see this partnership as a good thing.

    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:39PM (#33925318)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_RAV4_EV [wikipedia.org]

      The RAV4 EV was an all-electric version of the popular RAV4 SUV produced by Toyota. It was leased from 1997 to 2003, and at the lessees request, many units were sold after the vehicle was discontinued.[1] As of 2010 there are 800 units still in use.[2] In July 2010 Toyota announced that is working together with Tesla Motors to develop a second generation RAV4 EV, and the companies expect the vehicle to be mass produced by 2012.[2][3]

      The first fleet version of the RAV4 EV became available on a limited basis in 1997. In 2001 it was possible for businesses, cities or utilities to lease one or two of these cars. Toyota then actually sold or leased 328 RAV4 EVs to the general public in 2003, at which time the program was terminated despite waiting lists of prospective customers.

      • by Locutus (9039) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:42PM (#33925742)
        look at the wikipedia page section regarding the battery. Besides the GM EV1 going 126 miles on a charge with the NiMH batteries, the Toyota Rav4 EV also used high power NiMH batteries until they were sued by the oil company owning the patent and required to discontinue making those batteries.

        Pba batteries are too heavy for their energy density and LiOn are still very expensive.This has not helped the EV market but has helped keep oil flowing for the oil industry.

        LoB
        • Correct. The NiMH patents were sold by GM to Chevron. Toyota uses a different pack method, thereby getting around the NiMH patent for their hybrids, and Telsa will simply use Lithium Ion (or perhaps Lithium Polymer packs) for the new Rav4s.

          • by Locutus (9039)
            the hybrid NiMH batteries are much less powerful than the ones they once built and used in the Rav4 EV. The other thing which allows them to use the NiMH in the hybrids, IIRC, was the fact that Toyota was able to show the hybrid is 49% EV and 51% gasoline so it is not predominantly powered by electric power. Something about their license stating something to the fact of being predominantly powered by electricity.

            LoB
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ptudor (22537)
      Don't point out reality. If people knew Toyota and Ford and GM have been mass-producing electric cars since the mid-1990s, they might start asking why they can't actually purchase a product that was introduced over a dozen years ago. Watch "Who Killed The Electric Car" and count the number of RAV4 EVs you see... a past coworker makes his daily commute in one.

      It reminds me of news last year about building charging stations across California, when such facilities have lain abandoned for a decade.

      • I didn't understand that documentary. They never really explained why there is some conspiracy to avoid electric vehicles. I think the real problem with EVs is that gas has been so cheap for so long, it's never really been worth the extra complexity to switch to electric.

        • by Locutus (9039)
          Did you miss the part where they showed how many dealer replaceable parts are on gas engine cars as opposed to electric cars? There is a huge part of our economy just moving money around keeping gasoline powered cars running.

          And the other reason the EV was killed was that the Bush administration funded they hydrogen vehicle hype and suckered the CARB members to believe it. CARB backed off of zero emission vehicle requirements and Detroit cheered and stopped making cars and trucks to fulfill those zero-e re
      • I want my EV95 panasonic NiMH.
      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        It reminds me of news last year about building charging stations across California, when such facilities have lain abandoned for a decade.

        Speaking of charging stations, is there a standard for all electric cars? I don't want to have to go to a Toyota (TM) Charging Unit because the Nissan (TM) Recharging Center doesn't work with my car...

    • by Locutus (9039) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:30PM (#33925644)
      Toyota and Panasonic were forced to discontinue the battery pack design by Texaco(Exxon now) because the patent for the NiMH battery tech is/was owned by them and they won't let vendors build high power NiMH for vehicle motive purposes. Toyota discontinued the Rav4 EV after losing the lawsuit against them because of their batteries they used.

      And don't forget, Tesla might have something Toyota wants so they partnered. It could be just a "Made in America" label or it could be something special they did with the EV powerplant or control systems. It might just be a quick way into the market while they figure out if a 100% EV market will grow as opposed to the plug-in hybrid market.

      I feel there is a market for both.

      LoB
    • by Animats (122034)

      I'm a touch confused by this announcement.

      It's not unexpected. Tesla owns part of the idled NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA, where a Toyota/GM partnership produced cars until GM went bust. But Tesla just owns the property, not the equipment that Toyota left behind when they shut the plant. So some kind of deal between Toyota and Tesla makes sense.

      NUMMI was a final assembly plant, with no engine line, which is good for Tesla. They can adapt an existing body plant, but their powertrain plant will have to

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:34PM (#33925276)

    Toyota cant R and D this themselves after decades of research?

    sounds like a back scratching deal to me

    • by hackerjoe (159094) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:21PM (#33925578)

      Of course they *could* do it, but Tesla has a powertrain that's pretty much exactly what they'd need already developed for the Model S, and they're presumably already gearing up for production of the components.

      Tesla's proven they know what they're doing with the Roadster, so I can see why Toyota would want to spend $60M to adapt an almost-exactly-right design with a very low risk profile than spend probably more pulling together their existing R&D projects and tooling up, with all the entailing higher risk and extra development time.

      The hybrid powertrains they've been developing are conceptually very similar to an all-electric powertrain, but there's a lot of mechanical re-engineering they'd have to do, and that takes time. Hell, maybe $60M is a loss, but they're doing this deal because all their best engineers are busy working on another project and they just don't have the staff to handle a big rush job right now. Staffing is a big deal!

      • by vlm (69642)

        almost-exactly-right design

        That is a critical part.

        If Tesla gets it right, no problemo for Toyota because they've got a piece of the action.

        If Tesla screws it all up, no problemo for Toyota because "thats the Tesla stuff, ours will work better".

        Seems like a no risk scenario?

    • Toyota cant R and D this themselves after decades of research?

      sounds like a back scratching deal to me

      Sort of like a "you scratch our backs, we won't sue you for patent infringement" kind of deal?

  • by dreamer.redeemer (1600257) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:42PM (#33925336) Homepage
    An electric car is still a car--an absurdly overweight waste of energy. If you want something that can really make a difference, get an electric bicycle: cheaper, cleaner, healthier, and ~1000 mpg equivalent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      how about a regular bike? 10 miles per donut.
    • So... how do I move heavy stuff? How do I travel when it's raining? When it's fucking cold? When it's fucking hot? When it's more than a few kms?

      I don't own a car and I use public transportation, yet I can see a lot of uses for one. A bike is not, and never will be, a replacement for a car.

      • by choongiri (840652)
        When you have heavy stuff to move, or the weather isn't suited to your mating preferences, you get in your electric car. The rest of the time, you get on your bike (electric or cheesecake-powered at your preference) because it's far, far more efficient. That's the point. Nobody is saying electric bikes can replace all other vehicles, but for a great number of trips, they're a very good option, and one that (unfortunately) gets laughed at. Before you accuse me of being a fucking city-living hipster, yes, I
        • by russotto (537200)

          The rest of the time, you get on your bike (electric or cheesecake-powered at your preference) because it's far, far more efficient.

          The problem is that bane of human-powered vehicles, the inclined plane... err, the hill. Cheesecake-powered bicycle motors get much slower, leak saline, and emit foul odors when required to provide the motive power to climb them. Electric-powered bicycle motors also become much slower, and greatly drop in range.

          (and poor weather doesn't help much either)

          • by nloop (665733)

            Well, your problem is you are fat. Riding said bicycle will help immensely in relieving this problem!

            • by russotto (537200)

              Fat? No, sorry, please try again. No matter how much I ride the bicycle, it doesn't make climbing the hills anything but hard work.

        • by Velex (120469)

          I tried riding a bike to work. I lost a few lbs and felt great. What didn't feel so great however was huffing and puffing up a hill in low gear while giant SUVs sped past me at 10 over the speed limit (~45 mph) about a foot away. Where there are no bike paths, bike is a problem.

        • by ashitaka (27544)

          You're bringing up a false dichotomy of the electric vs human-powered bicycle as though an electric bike uses the battery all the time. Here in Japan what has become hugely popular are the electrically-assisted bicycles especially the type used by housewives to truck kids to and from school andto buy groceries. I live in Kanagawa-kan just outside Tokyo and there are LOTS of hills. I'll be riding around on the weekends slogging up a hill in the lowest gear on my mountain bike when a Japanese mum on her gr

      • So... how do I move heavy stuff? How do I travel when it's raining? When it's fucking cold? When it's fucking hot? When it's more than a few kms?

        I used to ride more than 15km each way to/from work. Solution: shower and carry a change of clothing. I was a fair weather rider, but others don rain gear and travel in the rain. Others even do so in snow when it's -20 C and the snow is up to their pedals -- this was a weather reporter I read about in either Edmonton or Calgary, I forget which, who rode her bike 365 days a year in temperatures anywhere from -40 C to +40 C. When it's hot, you wear less and use sunscreen. Unless it's so hot and your rout

      • by nloop (665733)

        electric [trekbikes.com] assist can easily carry lumber. If you need to move a couch, rent a truck. Renting a truck once or twice a year to move furniture is dirt cheap in comparison to fueling a vehicle that can on an every day basis. Cold? jacket. Hot? Stop being so damn fat. More than a few kms? See hot.

        And if that is too pricey for you this [bobgear.com] will mount on any bike and carry said cargo in a much cheaper fashion. Lumber, groceries, and all.

        Sure, large vehicles are handy but an enormous majority of the time our trips a

    • by ptomblin (1378)

      And what do you do when it snows? Stay home? Some of us need to travel all year, not just the 120 days a year when it's not snowing, raining, too windy, or too cold to ride a bike. Plus some of us buy groceries, or need to get our kayaks to the water.

    • by choongiri (840652)
      It's actually kind of sad this got modded funny. Yes, I know people make fun of electric bikes, but you'd think anyone on slashdot would have enough physics 101 to understand why - if you're trying to go 100% electric a bike is actually a much easier, more efficient way to do it than a car. The majority of car trips are an easily-bikeable distance, and if electric bikes get people cycling, then great.
      • by sjbe (173966)

        you're trying to go 100% electric a bike is actually a much easier, more efficient way to do it than a car.

        ??? It's only more efficient under certain circumstances but being more efficient doesn't mean more practical. For instance I've worked as a contractor in the past. I couldn't get my gear and myself to the job site in a Prius much less an electric bike. I also live in an area that gets very cold in winter and receives significant rain and snow. I don't remotely relish the thought of trying to ride any sort of two wheel vehicle (no matter what the power source) in much of the weather where I live. I ge

    • I see that you picked the right login.
    • An electric car is still a car--an absurdly overweight waste of energy.

      That depends entirely on the application you are using the car for. If you are talking about very short trips where you have to haul yourself and not much else, then a car is definitely pretty wasteful. Otherwise the picture isn't so clear for most people. Whether something is wasteful depends on both the circumstances and available alternatives.

      If you want something that can really make a difference, get an electric bicycle: cheaper, cleaner, healthier, and ~1000 mpg equivalent.

      That'll be loads of fun doing my 20 mile commute to work when the temperature is -10F.

  • ...the buyout will be announced?

    • That's what I was thinking when I read this.

      Tesla is as good as done as a brand. They'll become the subdivision of Toyota or, worse, their IP will be wrangled from them and only the top positions in the company will get any real compensation for their work as everyone else who hung in their and put their nose to the grindstone of Tesla will be shoveled off like some much shit on the sidewalk.
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:13PM (#33925534) Homepage Journal
    Toyota has already done an all-electric Rav4. Those of us who have seen Who Killed The Electric Car remember it being featured on there (though not as prominently as the GM EV1).

    The only real question here is why they are working with Tesla. There are plenty of good opportunities for conspiracy theorists on this one...
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >There are plenty of good opportunities for conspiracy theorists on this one...

      Because 10 year old engineering and electric car tech is just too old to shoehorn into a new model? Or that its market suicide if they go with 10 year old tech? Or that its cheaper/better to have Tesla do the work? No need for conspiracy here.

  • The 2011 RAV4s will be the last year of the V6. RAV4s are very popular. The V6 version tends to sell the quickest fetching full MSRP from the dealer.

    Toyota knows their own market. The new Hybrid i4 for 2012 is out of fear to meet the the new CAFE standards, not because of market demand.

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