The RAV4 has become Toyota's top-selling model in Russia and so it comes as no surprise that the automaker will invest around 18 billion yen (135 million euros) to expand capacity at its St. Petersburg factory where the assembly of its RAV4 compact SUV will start in 2016. Even as the economic slowdown has caused auto sales to fall for the past six straight months in Russia, RAV4 sales have increased by 43% to 27,000 vehicles in the eight months to August.
In a statement, Toyota said that the expanded plant will roll out up to 50,000 RAV4 vehicles a year based on the complete knock-down system. Currently, this plant (which makes the Camry sedan) is capable of producing 50,000 vehicles a year.
Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said that demand is increasing for the RAV4 and with its impressive sales, it makes sense that the automaker start local production of this model based on a longer term standpoint. He said that Russia offers incentives to urge foreign carmakers to localize production. In Russia, the RAV4 takes the No. 4 spot when it comes to SUV sales.
It follows Dacia's Duster, the Chevrolet Niva and the Lada 4x4. The RAV4 makes up almost a quarter of Toyota's sales in Russia. Toyota’s car sales in Russia fell 3% year-on-year this year, compared to a 7% drop in overall car sales in the country. In recent years, sales have increased. Last year, Toyota posted sales of 169,000 vehicles in Russia, a 26% increase compared to 2011 sales. Meanwhile, Russia's total auto demand increased by 11% to 2.94 million vehicles.
The all-new Toyota RAV4's design accomplishes strong dimensions while expressing its fun-loving character. Graceful and vivacious, the exterior has an advanced profile, with a smooth, sloped roofline and a strong character outline. The new RAV4's cabin has a first-rate, refined appearance with soft-touch accents and driver-centred controls.
Toyota’s RAV4 reaches for the design object outlined by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, with forcefully sculptured fenders in the front and rear and strong, balanced taillights that speak to the RAV4's sporty poise.
In a major diversion from its legacy, RAV4 will go from a side-hinged rear door to a handy roof-hinged liftgate with a space-saving spare tire stored under the cargo floor. Coming standard with the Limited variant will be a single-touch power rear liftgate with driver-selected memory settings for height.
As with other newly introduced Toyotas, the RAV4 engineering team devoted extra attention to streamlining, the most apparent detail being tiny vortex generators that are moulded into the tail lamp casings and close to the A-pillar bases. Less apparent are the streamlined undertrays under the passenger cabin to assist in smoothing and controlling airflow.