• Jul 16, 2010
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.



[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.


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  • 28 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Will it be built at NUMMI?
      • 4 Years Ago
      What is the range and recharge time? If I can put 400 miles on a charge and get a full recharge in 5 minutes I'd consider it. If the price was right.....

      I can drive 400 miles in my gasoline powered car and fill up in 5 minutes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Never. Any battery that can take energy as quickly as a gas nozzle delivers it will be too large to be road mobile.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @Dan

        I wouldn't say never. Ultracaps are gaining popularity in EV drivetrains as well, and battery weight density is ever decreasing...I bet you'll see it in your lifetime, unless you're old as dirt.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Keep dreaming. Battery technology is not quite there yet. Eventually, they'll get there, but it won't happen in 2 years time...
      • 4 Years Ago
      The time for onsey-twosey releases of EV conversions like the BMW MINI EV is past.

      Step up to the plate Toyota and make a real EV, not a small run for PR purposes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        isn't that what this is? That's how I read it.

        Think about it...they have already made a Rav4 EV previously, so they already have a base platform to do the same. Just update the battery tech and you're good to go. Think of it as a model refresh, just a bit longer than your standard 4 years...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't there are already an EV version of the RAV4?
        • 4 Years Ago
        And in MA. They ended with the introduction of the 2001 model (Gen 2). I drove one that Zipcar had a few times.
        • 4 Years Ago
        1997-2003. I believe it was sold in limited numbers in Japan and California.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm still not sold on Tesla's Li-Ion laptop battery design. Laptop batteries typically last 12-18 months before they have to be replaced, so I can see these battery packs beginning to lose range after 12 months, as indivdual batteries drop dead. There's only 1,000 or so Teslas running around now, and I still see his battery technology as unproven and unwise.
        • 4 Years Ago
        real genius comparing EV batteries to laptop batteries.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just because they're laptop cells doesn't mean that they will be treated the same in EVs. Companies like Tesla, Nissan, Toyota, and GM are pouring money into designing systems to keep these batteries at optimum temperatures and charge levels at all times.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The biggest difference right of the bat is that laptop batteries aren't liquid cooled. That liquid cooling is going to significantly increase their lifespan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ick...ick ick ick.

      Why do people buy these things? (the rav)

      Do buyers put on a blindfold when they sign the paperwork? I mean...just look at it.

      That's all i got.
      • 4 Years Ago
      More bad news for GM and the Volt.
      • 4 Years Ago
      looks good. it will only be a matter of time before Tesla becomes a subsidiary of Toyota and Musk becoming a multi billionaire.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A lot of folks are of that opinion as well. Personally, I was hoping Tesla would become a scrappy independent car company and an alternative competitor to Detroit, Asia and Europe. But I understand the general complexities of developing such a radical concept as all-electric cars for the masses. With R&D costs reaching astronomical heights it only makes sense to partner-up with someone who already has an established infrastructure in place.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope they give the US the same design update that Europe received. The front looks a ton better. Still has that odd rear door though
      • 4 Years Ago
      They should retool the first-gen RAV4 body in hydroformed aluminum to offset the 800 extra pounds of the 2010 model, and then add a huge and complex battery to bring the curb weight back. That would vastly increase the range of the new Toyelsa RAV4, which would only cost about 91K before Federal and State tax breaks. Oh wait. NM!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure that their focus will be on battery technology, but they might want to also work on vehicle styling. The current RAV4 looks very similar to the Highlander. That means ugly.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Better looking? Only if you think Rosey O'donnell is cute.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The RAV4 is one of the better looking CUVs out there. Toyota did a good job with the styling of the vehicle on the redesign, it's just too bad they made it huge.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When do the recalls start?
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