Toyota RAV4 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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.


Related Gallery2009 Toyota RAV4

[Source: Tesla]


PRESS RELEASE

Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor Corporation Formalize Agreement to
Develop Electric Version of RAV4

Palo Alto, California, U.S.A., and Tokyo, Japan - TESLA MOTORS, INC.

(Tesla) and TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) today announced that the two companies have signed an agreement to initiate the development of an electric version of the RAV4 as announced in May of this year by Elon Musk and Akio Toyoda. With an aim to market the EV in the United States in 2012, prototypes will be made combining the Toyota RAV4 model with a Tesla electric powertrain. Tesla plans to produce and deliver a fleet of prototypes to Toyota for evaluation within this year. The first prototype has already been built and is now undergoing testing.

In May, Tesla and TMC announced their intent to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support. Tesla seeks to learn and benefit from Toyota's engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise, while Toyota aims to learn from Tesla's EV technology, daring spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility.

TMC has, since its foundation in 1937, operated under the philosophy of "contributing to society through the manufacture of automobiles," and made cars that satisfy its many customers around the world. TMC introduced the first-generation Prius hybrid vehicle in 1997. The company also plans to introduce EVs into the market by 2012.

Tesla's goal is to produce increasingly affordable electric cars for mainstream buyers – relentlessly driving down the cost of EVs. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components, and is currently the only automaker in the U.S. that builds and sells highway-capable EVs in serial production.