Don't Crush Her Future
By EV World
Linda Nichols' Toyota RAV4 EV is virtually identical to her husband, Howard Stein's, differing only in color; one is white and the other is silver. Linda leases her vehicle, while Howard bought his after leasing it briefly. But when Ms. Nicholes' lease expires in 2006, she won't be able to buy it.
Instead, Toyota plans to recall it and hundreds more like it that were out on fleet leases, and "recycle" them, which is auto industry-speak for sending them to the crusher.
What troubles Linda is that by the time she has to turn back in her vehicle to Toyota it only will have reached the half-way point of its useful service life. Similar models in fleet service have demonstrated well over 100,000 gasoline-free miles and showed every indication of being able to go to 130,000.
So, she and other electric car enthusiasts, along with the support of environmental organizations, have launched an initiative to persuade Toyota to follow Ford Motor Company's example and sell the relative handful of electric RAV4s to the public, starting with loyal customers like Ms. Nicholes and her husband, who also own a Toyota Prius.
To alert the public to their dilemma, many of the same players who took part in the General Motors vigil earlier this year, have formed a grass roots alliance called Don't Crush. The organization kicked off its efforts with a press conference on Wednesday, June 1, 2005 on Toyota's Torrance, California campus. The event attracted an estimated dozen RAV4 EVs and one Ford Ranger EV, as well as reporters and news crews from the local media, including network TV affiliates in Los Angeles.
A Toyota spokesman put in an appearance, but his remarks apparently did little to quell the sense of frustration and disappointment felt by electric car advocates and owners who want the company to follow Ford's example and not destroy these pollution-free vehicles.
EV World was able to talk to Ms. Nicholes by mobile phone just after the press conference. You can listen to her remarks by playing the Flash-based MP3 player at the right or by downloading the 3.1Mb audio file to your hard drive for playback on your favorite MP3 device. The interview is approximately 14 minutes long.