History of the Toyota RAV4 EV, 1st and 2nd generation

This vehicle arises from a partnership between Toyota and Tesla Motors which formed in May 2010.  In surprising move Tesla Motors and Toyota announce NUMMI partnership The agreement to design and build the Toyota RAV4 EV was announced via a joint press release Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor Corporation Formalize Agreement to Develop Electric Version of RAV4 in July 2010. Tesla and Toyota agree to develop an electric RAV4

The Toyota/Tesla partnership involved

  • An investment in Tesla Motors by Toyota — joining Daimler as the second major automaker to invest in Tesla
  • The sale of the NUMMI auto plant from Toyota to Tesla — this factory, in Fremont CA, is convenient to Tesla’s headquarters and is now the location of Tesla Model S manufacturing
  • The agreement to design/build the second generation RAV4 EV using a Tesla drive train

The new RAV4 EV is being built in the same plant, in Woodstock Ontario, where the gas powered RAV4 is built. Tesla/Toyota RAV4 EV to be built in Ontario alongside gasser RAV4’s

Specifications were revealed for the second generation Toyota RAV4 EV at the EVS26 conference in May 2012 in Los Angeles. Prior to that announcement, a prototype RAV4 EV had been seen at several conferences which was festooned with Tesla logo’s under the hood, and a Tesla-Proprietary charging port. Toyota to unveil specs of game changing electric SUV, the RAV4 EV

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The electric drive train, designed by Tesla Motors, is rated for 154 HP (115 kilowatts), and 218 ft-lb of torque. This makes for a 0-60 time of 7 seconds (in sport mode), and a top speed of 100 miles/hr, which is pokey for a Tesla drive train, but still respectably fast. In eco mode the 0-60 time is 8.6 seconds, and there is a top speed of 85 miles/hr. The 41.8 kilowatt hour battery pack surprisingly provides only a 100 mile driving range. By comparison other electric cars provide a 100 mile range using much smaller battery packs. $49,800 MSRP. Why is the range per kilowatt hour shorter? One simple reason is physics, a larger vehicle, with more weight (mass) simply requires more energy to move down the road, which consumes the energy in the battery pack faster. The released RAV4EV has a normal J1772 level 2 charging connector rather than a Tesla proprietary connector (as was the case on a pre-production RAV4 EV seen in March), meaning that the RAV4 EV will not support the Tesla proprietary fast charging system. However the on-board charger supports a 10 kilowatt charging rate, which is quite a lot faster than other electric vehicles. It should mean the RAV4 EV should give 35-40 miles or so of range per hour of charging. Toyota unveils RAV4 EV, the first all-electric SUV on the market, at EVS26

On Aug 2, 2012, Toyota hosted a press test drive event The All-Electric Toyota RAV4 EV First Drive The new RAV4 EV combines the modern RAV4 platform, with a battery pack and drive train designed by Tesla Motors. The popular RAV4 compact SUV platform, combined with an electric drive train, results in what the company expects will be the longest EPA estimated driving range rating of any non-luxury EV. It has a smooth quiet ride, a low coefficient of drag (at 0.30 Cd), and low center of gravity. To improve over the gas-powered RAV4 coefficient of drag (0.35 Cd) Toyota’s engineers re-styled the front bumper, upper and lower grill, side mirrors, rear spoiler, and under body design to optimize air flow around the vehicle. The battery pack is located beneath the passenger compartment, to shift the center of gravity lower. The front wheel drive system offers two drive modes, Sport and Normal. In Sport mode, the vehicle reaches 0-60 mph in just 7.0 seconds and has a maximum track speed of 100 mph. In Normal mode the 0-60 mph time slows down to 8.6 seconds with a maximum track speed of 85 mph. Maximum output from the electric powertrain is 154 HP (115kW). Toyota RAV4 EV “first drive” opportunity for news media leading to late summer 2012 launch

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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  1. Pingback: Toyota cements itself as Hybrid supplier with new RAV4 Hybrid | The Long Tail Pipe

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