Toyota plans to sell about 20,000 plug-in Prius hybrids in the US from mid-2012 and will show a battery-powered RAV4 developed with new EV partner Tesla at the Los Angeles motor show in November.

The all-electric RAV4 will also be launched in the US in 2012, Toyota executive vice president Takeshi Uchiyamada told Reuters in Detroit. Tesla will supply the batteries and motor, he said.

Toyota previously marketed an electric version of its first generation RAV4 which was leased to selected customers in the US from 1997 to 2003 with some units sold to lessees after the model line was discontinued. Several hundred reportedly are still in use.

“The RAV4 will be the only electric compact SUV in the market,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for Santa Monica, California-based Truecar.com. “The biggest issue will be pricing. If they can keep the vehicle priced US$4,000 from its gasoline counterpart, even after tax credits, the vehicle will sell.”

Introducing electric vehicles developed by both Tesla and Toyota by 2012 will ensure that Toyota has models to meet new US requirements and offer customers a variety of options, Uchiyamada said. Toyota can be “slow” to innovate, and the partnership with Tesla allows the Japanese company to work “in a much quicker way,” he said.

Uchiyamada said Toyota also plans to add six hybrid models by the end of 2012. Local spokesman John Hanson said the plug-in Prius with electric drive for about 20km (12 miles) may cost US$3,000 to $5,000 more than a conventional version.

Global sales of the plug-in will be a “few tens of thousands” for the first few years, or less than 10% of regular Prius sales, Uchiyamada said. He reiterated that Toyota will sell a retail model of its hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to US drivers by 2015.

The Wall Street Journal said the six new hybrids would include two Lexus and four Toyota models.

Some will be hybrid models only like the Prius while others will also have a petrol engine variant, the report said. All of the hybrids will be new, and not next-generation versions of existing models.

Toyota Europe is currently in the build-up to the launch of a new Corolla/Auris-sized Lexus hatchback called the CT200h.

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