Toyota and Tesla have officially announced that the electric prototypes being developed by the California startup are based on the RAV4 crossover, and the two companies hope to have a production version ready by 2012. When we sat down with Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda last week, he revealed that an initial prototype was being built with a Tesla electric powertrain. Since then, Tesla CTO JB Straubel revealed that his engineering team was preparing two vehicles based on an existing Toyota platform for delivery by the end of July.
If the project comes to fruition, it will be great news for fans of the original RAV4 EV which debuted in the late 1990s. Several hundred of those vehicles are still on the road today and regularly turn up for sale on eBay Motors at premium prices.
The new RAV4s will use Tesla's liquid cooled lithium ion battery configuration that contains thousands of commodity laptop cells. The first prototype is already running and a larger fleet will be prepared this year for durability testing by Toyota.