• Nov 17, 2010
Toyota RAV4 EV – Click above for high-res image gallery

Proudly "Powered by Tesla," the brand-new Toyota RAV4 EV made its debut at the LA Auto Show today, and it's pretty much what you'd expect: a current-generation RAV4 with the heart of a Tesla Roadster. Or maybe a Model S. In any case, one of Silicon Valley's electric cars. As we've known, Tesla's role in the partnership is to develop the powertrain – including the battery, power electronics module, electric motor, gearbox and software – for Toyota's popular CUV.

The RAV4 EV has a long history, as long-time plug-in vehicle fans are well aware. The first-gen version arrived in 1997 and was available for six years. Toyota said today that it sold or leased 1,484 units during that time – and that nearly 750 of them are still in operation – but could never make them a mainstream hit like the Prius. Making these alternative-power vehicles isn't that difficult, said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales' president and chief operating officer, the hard part is bringing them to mainstream customers.

This is the goal of the RAV4 EV, which is scheduled to hit the market in 2012. The initial batch of test vehicles, the so-called Phase Zero machines, are already achieving 100 miles of range, but Toyota engineers are working hard to make sure that the Phase One vehicles (i.e., the next batch) will be able to reach that number no matter what the climate or outside condition is – or, in the words of the press release, "in a wide range of climates and conditions." The engineering team is also focused on drivability and making the electric CUV feel, "as close to a conventional RAV4 as possible." We'll have a more complete post about the RAV4 EV later, but for now you can find plenty more information on Toyota's dedicated RAV4 EV website and check it out from every angle in the gallery below.

Live photos copyright ©2010 Sebastian Blanco / AOL



Toyota/Tesla Collaboration To Build, Demonstrate And Evaluate 35 Vehicles: Fully Engineered Second-Generation RAV4 EV Slated For 2012 On-Sale Date

LOS ANGELES, November 17, 2010 -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) debuted today the second-generation Toyota RAV4 EV at a news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A total of 35 vehicles will be built for a demonstration and evaluation program through 2011, aiming at market arrival of a fully-engineered vehicle in 2012. The fully-engineered vehicle will have a target range of 100 miles in actual road driving patterns, in a wide range of climates and conditions.

"When we decided to work together on the RAV4 EV, President Akio Toyoda wanted to adopt a new development model that incorporated Tesla's streamlined, quick-action approach," said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer, TMS. "The result was a hybrid – a new decision and approval process and a development style that our engineers refer to as "fast and flexible."

Led by the Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America (TEMA) Technical Center in Michigan, the new development model helped reduce development time without compromising product quality. The team has accomplished this by approaching the project as they would a typical mid-cycle "major-minor" product change. Specifically, midway through a generation, the team began with a fully engineered current-generation RAV4, to which was added a major powertrain option, along with minor feature and cosmetic changes.

Tesla was responsible for building and supplying the battery, as well as other related parts, that met specific Toyota engineering specifications in performance, quality and durability. Toyota was responsible for development and manufacturing leadership and the seamless integration of the powertrain.

"From the beginning, the customer experience has been the focus," said Lentz. "In other words, how do we deliver an unconventional product to mainstream customers that is compelling and affordable and that offers an acceptable level of daily convenience."

A large part of the team's focus on the customer experience targeted driveability. In this case, the end goal is a vehicle with driveability characteristics as close to the conventional RAV4 as possible.

For example, the demonstration vehicle weighs approximately 220 pounds more than the current RAV4 V6 yet it will accelerate from zero to sixty nearly as quickly.

This added weight factor required significant retuning of major components and a prioritized focus on weight distribution. Not only were suspension and steering modified significantly, major components needed to be relocated to better balance the increased mass of the battery pack.

The demonstration vehicle Toyota is currently testing is powered by a lithium metal oxide battery with useable output rated in the mid-30 kwh range. However, many decisions regarding both the product, as well as the business model, have not been finalized. Battery size and final output ratings, as well as pricing and volume projections of the vehicle Toyota plans to bring to market in 2012, have not been decided.

As for a final assembly location, Toyota is considering many options and combinations. The basic vehicle will continue to be built at its Canadian production facility in Woodstock, Ontario. Tesla will build the battery and related parts and components at its new facility in Palo Alto, Calif. The method and installation location of the Tesla components into the vehicle is being discussed.

The RAV4 EV received several distinct exterior styling changes including a new front bumper, grille, fog lamps and head lamps. New EV badging and the custom "mutually exclusive" paint color, completed the transformation. The interior received custom seat trim, multimedia dash displays, push-button shifter and dashboard meters. The RAV4 platform brings a 73-cubic-foot cargo area with rear seats folded down – no cargo space was lost in the conversion to an electric powertrain.
In 1997, Toyota brought to market the first-generation RAV4 EV in response to the California zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate and was the first manufacturer to meet the mandate's Memo of Agreement on volume sales. Powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the vehicle had a range of between 80-110 miles on a single charge. From model year 1998 to model year 2003, only 1,484 vehicles were sold or leased in the U.S. 746 first-generation RAV4 EVs are still on the road (www.toyotarav4ev.com).

"Price and convenience proved to be critical success factors and they remain so today," said Lentz. "But much has changed in the last few years. Most importantly, the growing level of awareness that sustainable mobility will come at a cost that must be shared by the automakers, government and the consumer."

Toyota's approach to sustainable mobility focuses on the world's future reliance on mobility systems tailored to specific regions or markets, rather than individual models or technologies. It acknowledges that no one technology will be the "winner" and that a mobility system in Los Angeles will probably look very different from one in Dallas or New York or London or Shanghai.
Toyota's comprehensive technology strategy is a portfolio approach that includes a long-term commitment to hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and battery electrics all driven by the further proliferation of conventional gas-electric hybrids, like Prius as its core technology.

Toyota has announced that coinciding with the arrival of the RAV4 EV in 2012 it will launch, in key global markets, the Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid) and a small EV commuter vehicle. It will also launch, in key global markets, its first commercialized hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in calendar year 2015, or sooner. Finally, by the end of 2012, Toyota will add seven all new (not next-generation) hybrid models to its portfolio.



* Unique front and rear styling
* LED Foglamps
* 18" Alloy wheels
* Special pearl white paint with aqua base – "mutually exclusive"


* Smart key system with push button start
* Combination synthetic leather and fabric seating surfaces
* Touch screen DVD Navigation system
* Cargo volume equal to 2010 RAV4


* Powerful electric motor with Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack
* Zero emission vehicle (ZEV)
* Class-leading driving range, acceleration, and top speed
* Real world driving range of approximately 100 miles

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      So what are those two plates sticking down underneath the center section of the car? Almost look like radiators. Whatever they are they look like they'll be history in a "high-center" event.

      /most visible on pictures # 8 and 9.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You mean like when pulling into a 7-11?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not sure what it is, but looking at pictures of the gasoline RAV4 it doesn't look like it hangs any lower than the stock exhaust system. Also consider the RAV4 is not an off road vehicle, there are not many places where you can high center on the street.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I believe you're looking at the battery packs.
        See here: http://toyotarav4ev.com/?media=H8E5892

        This is really just a demonstration vehicle. I suspect things will be better integrated in the future. Under the hood it looks like a Roadster 2.0/2.5 PEM flipped around.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The last time I scraped was about 3 months ago pulling into an Embassy suites parking lot.

        I don't know. I'm thinking that Tesla badge under the hood is good for sharing $465 million in government loans and I'm not sure what else. Probably Tesla realized they weren't going to be able to put anything together and Toyota said "sure, we'll help you spend that money" and well, there you go.

        The Rav4 EV doesn't look all that finished to me. Looks a little like something that got thrown together for the pony show. If those ARE battery cooling radiators hanging down then they're going to have to move. Also, those push buttons for the "gear" selection don't look like anybody's put any thought into it.

        I hope this Tesla/Toyota/U.S. government partnership doesn't turn into a typical government job.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And the price tag is . . . . . ?

      We already know they can stuff batteries in a RAV4. They did it ten years ago. And home-converters have done it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not just stuffing batteries. It's making sure it doesn't affect cargo/passenger space, safety, performance, ride, handling, and reliability/durability. Most conversions miss at least one of these points.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I want one :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      This CUV has the proportions of a full size SUV of the 90s. too bad it became so bloated.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think Toyota is just thinking about the market. while the Leaf and Mitsubishi I are practical cars, American's are...how should I say this... wide people and think bigger is better....The RAV4 is more mainstream and will get more looks from average Joe and Cindy. IMO
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would like to see a depreciation formula for the batteries in cost per mile per lifetime.

      Of course, it would be good to see an ICE's equivalent lifetime costs. I've had motors cost me thousands to repair over a lifetime.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hope a ton of people buy it so there is more petrol for me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They are at least tweaking the grill and under the hood looks pretty darn empty -- some more batteries, please?



      Sincerely, Neil
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOTS more batteries please.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The original RAV4 was a relatively good platform for conversion, at 2800 pounds; this model has grow considerably heavier and now weighs in at somewhere north of 3400.
        • 4 Years Ago
        3,400 lbs. is positively feathery for this class anymore. And if acceleration is competitive with a V6 RAV, then this thing should be a hoot to drive, as the RAV with the six is the hot rod of the CUV segment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To me, Eco ≠ CUV. It's not just a question of weight, they also aren't very aerodynamic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As usual, the Japanese manufacturers are doing a better job on the spec sheet. It's a beast compared to the 1st gen but the range is a the same.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmm, 2012.

      Why does it take so long.??

      Maybe Toy is forcing Tesla to get away from 18650's ( but probably not).

      You must ask yourselves: Even though all the logical arguments still apply , Why aren't the major auto man's using it (18650's that is)!!

      (This is not an anti Tesla comment)--GSB
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's why I said future, with enough volume (none of the cells for GM or Nissan have much volume right now). Right now I doubt prismatic batteries are cheaper, but with enough volume and more time to optimize the cells, they may get cheaper.

        The Thunderskys work out to $375/kWh, which works out to equivalent to $3 per 3.6V 2200mah 18650 cell (what Tesla is using for the roadster). I looked up 18650 prices and the cell price is $2.8 negotiable on business trading websites for a brand name Sanyo UR18650A cell of the mentioned specs; I'm sure Tesla's direct supplier contract price is much lower, even though it is a brand name cell. I'm pretty sure prismatic cells from brand name manufacturers cost significantly more, which is why Toyota/Daimler is even looking at them.

        Of course 18650s have their inherent issues, cycle life is about 500 cycles, calendar life is also lower than 10 years typically, and lithium cobalt is less safe than other chemistries. Those are probably why it is avoided, not necessarily price.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Source? Just look at what GM & Leaf are using. If cylindrical batteries were cheaper, they'd use them. A123 moved to prismatic to reduce the price.

        Or how about just comparing the $/KWH prices at places like this:
        • 4 Years Ago
        Because prismatic batteries are cheaper.
        • 4 Years Ago

        I'm spec'ing an EV as we speak. Prismatics are indeed cheaper to buy. Logic and common sense says so as well because less material is used per WH and less energy is used in manufacturing per WH.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cheap!... is dependent on the supply chain. Tesla doesn't make their own cells. But they buy in large quantity. So 18650's are the cheapest for them.

        Nissan is making their own cells, so prismatic is cheaper to make.

        As a home conversionaire, you can only buy cells made for automotive applications. So 18650 would not even be an option unless you know how to build a BMS like Tesla does.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Because prismatic batteries are cheaper."
        Source? Maybe will be true in the future with enough volume, but unlikely to be true right now, esp vs 18650s.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was hoping for at least 150 miles of range. Shouldn't Toyota shoot for something better than the 1st gen. RAV4 EV which had 100 miles of range ten years ago? Also, I don't think I'd buy a CUV without 4WD capability; otherwise, what's the point?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree was fairly disappointed to read 100 miles - I too was expecting somewhere between 150 and 200 miles.

        No doubt it was decided to be aimed at 100 miles to keep battery costs down and therefore overall price tag down.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They wanted to achieve at least 100 miles under worst driving conditions, so that would mean close to 150 under average conditions, and even higher under ideal conditions. It's still 2 years away, there's time for improvements.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "but could never make them [the original RAV4 EV] a mainstream hit like the Prius"

      You mean "but didn't try to make them a mainstream hit like the Prius, and dropped them as soon as the automakers successfully lobbied to weaken the California ZEV mandate."
        • 3 Years Ago
        Also need to ad, that, like GM's EV1, these were handbuilt vehicles. If Toyota wanted them to be popular like the Prius they would have had to be able to mass produce them and they didn't try that.

        Toyota was the only main manufacturer to relent and, at the end, allow customers to buy the vehicles - thinking nobody would want them. A shock to Toyota at the time was the number of orders that came flying in which they had to close earlier than they expected - they had to scramble to find enough parts to piece together the vehicles.

        Toyota had to stop selling them for a couple of reasons - the primary reason was that they couldn't get the full size NiMH batteries anymore - GM had ensured that they would never be produced while the NiMH patent was in force.

        GM sold the company (cobasys I think) owning the NiMH patent to Texaco and that was the end of large cell size (needed for EV's) NiMH production. ;-) This was after the Japanese NiMH battery maker that supplied Toyota for the RAV4 EV lost the patent lawsuit regarding NiMH batts.

        The other reasons include that they ran out of parts for the RAV4 EV with that overall RAV4 model being out of production.

        Its nice to see Toyota at least shooting for 100 miles range in all conditions our existing choices for EV's won't come close to that. Of course that also sounds pretty expensive. It'll be interesting to see the details of this vehicle when it gets closer to release.
    • Load More Comments