CHATSWORTH, CA – A Chatsworth couple nearly doubled their investment when they auctioned their three-year-old Toyota RAV4 electric-powered sport/utility vehicle on eBay last week, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The couple paid a Toyota dealer $42,500 when they bought it new and then received a $9,000 federal tax rebate. The buyer won the auction with a bid of $67,300, saying he wanted the SUV "to convert it to solar power and use it to help promote use of electric vehicles."

The purchase price is a record for a secondhand EV, said a Santa Monica electric-vehicle activist, and the buyer spent a day towing the silver SUV with the big "EV" logo on the doors to his solar-powered home in Northern California. He towed it, using a rented, gasoline-burning truck, because the RAV4 EV has a range of only about 100 miles on a full charge. It would have taken half a week to drive all the way home from Chatsworth because of the time needed to recharge the batteries, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The buyer believes the electric RAV4 is worth what he paid – even though there are only 1,000 miles of driving left before Toyota's 60,000-mile warranty expires – because "these are rare cars." In all, Toyota built more than 1,000 of them, but most are leased to utility companies and other fleet users, and only 300 were made available to retail customers. Toyota and other automakers have stopped making battery-powered electric vehicles, maintaining that they are impractical because of the frequent charges.

The couple said they hoped to get one with more range, even though there are no such vehicles available today. They’re confident that some automaker will soon launch a so-called plug-in hybrid that would operate as an electric car for 100 miles or more on a rechargeable, or plug-in, battery pack, and on longer trips, a gasoline-electric hybrid system would kick in when the batteries were depleted, reported the Los Angeles Times.