- RAV4 hybrid demand caught Toyota by surprise
- Some customers waiting for 12 months
- COVID-19 could delay RAV4 further
Hybrid is the new green for Toyota, with the company passing through a big worldwide milestone this week. The Japanese company has sold more than 15 million hybrid products since 1997, with more than 134,000 being sold right here in Australia.
And thanks to the popularity of cars like the Corolla Hybrid, Camry Hybrid and the RAV4 Hybrid, Australia's contribution of 27,800 cars last year is an all-time high for the Japanese brand - and for any brand for that matter.
The release of the hybrid Toyota RAV4 has been a smash hit for Toyota, with more than 60 per cent of RAV4 sales in 2020 coming from its hybrid line-up.
Unfortunately, the demand has created a drama for Toyota, with some customers reporting waits of up to 12 months for the RAV4 hybrid of their choice.
In many ways, the Toyota RAV4 can be considered the grandparent of the SUV movement – and after just 26 years on sale, the ubiquitous RAV has topped 10 million worldwide sales, a feat that took the venerable LandCruiser 68 years to do.
However, the popularity of the fifth-generation RAV4 has some of its customer-base jumping in frustration, not joy.
Compounding the issue is a convoluted ordering system that doesn’t allocate cars on a first-come-first-serve basis, dealers that are allegedly prepared to allow a customer to ‘gazump’ another on price and delays caused by the worldwide slowdown of the car industry thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Such is the level of frustration, customers are creating public social media accounts to vent their anger.
One such customer said that he had been quoted a delivery time of between six and eight months after ordering in September 2019, but is now not set to receive his car until this September.
“Does anyone find a 12-month wait for ANY car completely insane?” he said.
Other customers have reported that they are being offered cars from allegedly cancelled orders that are not the same spec as their order and at a non-negotiable price.
A Toyota Australia spokesperson told WhichCar that the demand for RAV4 hybrids as been “extraordinary”.
“As of mid-March 2020, we have been able to fulfil more than 90 per cent of orders for RAV4 hybrids, since launch, within six months of ordering, with the average wait time being four to five months,” the spokesperson said.
“We are working to reduce the wait time for anyone who has waited more than six months by making minor adjustments to our systems to try to reduce delivery times by a variety of means.”
This adjustment will try and balance the order sheets between large fleet orders – which is essentially the reason a first-come-first-served order system can’t be applied to a car with high sales volumes – and private sales.
MORE Toyota RAV4 hub page
Against the run of play, Toyota has also secured additional supply of hybrid RAV4s, despite it initially building its planning model around a 35 per cent hybrid mix.
With demand that’s exceeded 50 per cent, renegotiating with Tokyo head office is a tricky business, given how far in advance car companies program their factories to produce cars.
“We have also successfully negotiated additional shipments of RAV4 hybrids that will arrive throughout 2020, which we hope will also contribute to reducing delivery times in the next few months and will continue negotiating for an even greater share of global production to further reduce wait times,” confirmed the spokesperson.
However, there is a dark cloud looming on the horizon for customers awaiting their new RAV4 hybrid. There have been documented delays at the Takaoka plant in Japan – home of the RAV4 and Corolla - after two cases of COVID-19 were reported, which is likely to affect output.
As well, a lock-down of industry and travel in a country that – somewhat ironically – is poorly set up for remote working will also present delays.
“RAV4 did have a very strong sales result in March, mainly as a result of pent up orders from previous months,” said the spokesperson. “The current COVID 19 situation will likely have a significant impact to delivery times of RAV4 Hybrids; however, it is too early to predict exactly what that will be.”