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Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid not for Australia just yet

New petrol-electric Toyota RAV4 is faster and more powerful than the previous V6 but plans for Australia are going slow.
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The new Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid – the most powerful and quickest RAV4 to date – will go on sale in the US by the middle of next year, but Australian customers will need to wait a little longer.

While Toyota is the clear market leader for regular petrol-electric hybrid cars – which charge their onboard battery pack during normal driving, but only offer a limited electric boost – the company is yet to introduce a plug-in hybrid locally despite the technology being available overseas.

“We don’t have anything to announce on the introduction of (plug-in hybrids) to Australia today,” said a statement from Toyota. “We’re not ruling it out, and are studying the possibility of introducing (the technology) in the future.”

The new Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid could be worth the wait, whether you want to save the planet or floor the throttle.

Toyota says the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid can travel up to 62 kilometres on battery power alone in real-world driving conditions before switching to petrol. The company claims it is the longest electric driving range of any plug-in hybrid SUV on sale today.

As with the regular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid range, a 2.5-litre petrol engine powers the front wheels while an electric motor delivers extra power to the rear wheels on demand.

However, compared to the regular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the plug-in hybrid variant has a bigger, lithium-ion battery pack and a more powerful electric motor.

This combination enables the Toyota RAV4 Prime, as it is called in the US, to sprint from 0 to 100km/h in about six seconds, about two seconds quicker than the normal RAV4 Hybrid.

For comparison, the hugely popular Toyota RAV4 V6 sold from 2006 to 2012 did the 0 to 100km/h dash in about 6.5 seconds.

That 3.5-litre V6 had 200kW of power; Toyota says the RAV4 plug-in hybrid has a total of 225kW of power from its petrol and electric motors.

In the meantime, Toyota Australia says it is working overtime to clear a backlog of orders for the regular RAV4 Hybrid.

The delivery time on some variants stretches to four months, however some customers claim they are being told the wait could be up to 12 to 14 months.

CarAdvice has asked Toyota Australia for a more accurate estimate on the expected delivery times across all in-demand hybrid models including Corolla, Camry and RAV4, so customers are not misinformed at the dealership when shopping for a new car.