Last week, Toyota unveiled the all-new RAV4 EV and announced two important numbers: a $49,800 MSRP and a sales target of just 2,600 over the next three years. There's more to the story, though, as told to us by Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The short version is that Toyota has taken the Prius lesson incredibly seriously.

We are the first to market with an SUV and we think that counts for quite a bit.

To wit: in creating the new Prius family, Toyota listened to the Prius rejectors about why they were not going to buy a Prius. They wanted more room (now see the Prius V) or a lower price (Prius C). Carter said that the strategy worked, and that 79 percent of Prius C buyers and 67 percent of Prius V buyers are new to hybrid technology. The Prius Plug-In went through the same process, going on the road for over two years before launch. The hybrid represents Toyota's "small battery approach to electrification" and has sold surprisingly well thus far. With the RAV4 EV, Carter said, "We've created a compelling product," with "full Toyota quality," he said. Even though the RAV4 EV went from concept to production in less than two years. A typical vehicle takes almost four years. "There was no template for this project. There were no guidelines. Just a challenge to bring to market a premium EV. Toyota and Tesla engineers both rose to that challenge," he said.

Some more numbers: The RAV4 EV has approximately a 100-mile range, a 41.8 kWh li-ion battery pack, 73 cubic feet of cargo space, acceleration of 0-60 in seven seconds and "comfortable seating for five." Toyota's partner Leviton has created the official home-charging unit, a 40-amp, 240-volt station that allows for a full recharge in about six hours. There are three exterior colors and an exclusive interior fabric. Oh, and the RAV4 EV weighs around 470 pounds more than the RAV4 V6 but, since this weight is low and in the center of the vehicle and the chassis was tuned for this weight distribution, "it created an extremely comfortable ride and driving characteristic," Carter said, one that is better than the RAV4 V6.

Those numbers should appeal to anyone who's interested in a bigger EV. Carter said he knows that people who drive or have driven the first-gen RAV4 EVs – almost 1,500 of which were made from 1997 to 2003 – will be interested in this new version. "We've already been contacted by a number of those consumers," he said. The bigger question is how many others will be interested. Cater said:

Toyota is mindful of the challenges facing mainstream acceptance of battery electric vehicles. That's why our approach will be measured and focused. ... We plan to build about 2,600 vehicles over the next three years. We believe this measured introduction will allow us to, first, efficiently meet the demands of the market; two, meet the California ZEV mandate and requirements; and, three, continue to educate and develop the general public about our portfolio of advanced technologies. Because, in addition to this RAV4 EV, 2012 will also see the introduction of our compact iQ EV, designed for urban car-sharing programs as well as growing sales of the Prius Plug-In, the Prius C, the Prius C and the car that started it all: the new Prius.

So, again, why 2,600 RAV4 EVs? The best answer we could get is that this is the number Toyota feels is a good first step, not an over- or underestimation, a way to gauge consumer interest. Toyota feels "really confident" they can sell at least that many in the first three years. So, by some calculations, this is a ZEV "compliance car," but it's also a "real" car in the sense that people will actually be able to go buy it, and soon. Some people, anyway. We asked Cindy Knight, TMS' public affairs manager, why not sell it in Portland, OR or Seattle, WA, where one can imagine it would sell quite well? Her answer:

It's not something that we've dismissed, it's not something that we've planned for, either. Honestly, this is a wait and see attitude that we're adopting here. We're not the first to market. There are a substantial number of Volt and Leaf sales ahead of us and so we're not sure what's the rest of the market look like. We are the first to market with an SUV and we think that counts for quite a bit.

Of course, anyone can travel to California, buy a RAV4 EV and take it elsewhere, but there won't be any official service outside of the state. For now, anyway. If you'd like to see this change, your best bet is to tell Toyota directly.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 52 Comments
      MiamiD
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is just to meet California's new Zero Emission regulation. It is not a serious effort by Toyota to expand into EV's. And for $50,000 I rather have a Tesla Model S.
      EVnerdGene
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey Dan, "100-mile range, a 41.8 kWh li-ion battery pack" .418 kWhr/mile Heavy eater. EV+FUV = oxymoron
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        If the EV market is to expand, there needs to be more choices. CUV/SUV is the next logical step. Obviously it will use more kWh/mile, it's bigger. Cargo volume behind rear seats is 36cf, behind front seats is 73cf. Compare this to 14.5/24cf in a Leaf.
        danwat1234
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        418 watt hours per mile, means about 79MPG equivalent.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The article conveniently omits that this is the 2nd generation RAV4-ev, so the statement that there was no template for the project is incorrect. I believe the first generation RAV4-ev had a >100 mi range with nickel metal hydride batteries. I wonder how many miles a first generation RAV4-ev could attain with a more advanced LiFePo battery pack with the same amp hours? 150 miles?
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        The old RAV4-EV had 27.4 kWh. The revised EPA rating is 43kWh/100mi combined. 27.4/43 = 64 miles, so that means 71-80 miles of EPA range (assuming 80-90% charging efficiency), if it was rated for 5-cycle range like the Leaf. The official 2-cycle EPA range for the RAV4-EV is 95 miles. If you use the 70% adjustment that was used for the Leaf, you get 67 miles EPA range. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/compx2008f.jsp?year=2003&make=Toyota&model=RAV4%20EV&hiddenField=Findacar So everything points to the 1st gen RAV4-EV getting a EPA rating around 70 miles, not 100 miles. I'm pretty sure the 100+miles figure quoted for the second gen is for the 5-cycle test and will be the official EPA sticker number.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toyota are putting their toe in the water, but they don't really believe in batteries for this size of vehicle. This looks like testing for their FCEV to me, which coincidentally they reckon they will be able to do for $50k in 2015, so having a couple of thousand of these running around tests the other electric systems so they can drop in the fuel stack and say: 'Hey, would you rather have a 400 mile range for the same price?' So they do their testing for the FCEV and comply with ZEV requirements.
        JakeY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Before seeing what kind of volumes they do for the FCV, I wouldn't come to the conclusion this is preparation for a serious FCV launch (esp. given the fueling model is completely different between the two). It's clearly a CARB play, and it's no guarantee their FCV won't be another CARB play with low volumes (keep in mind FCVs get extra points, so they need even less volume). Plus given this RAV4-EV is primarily built with Tesla components (and not by their in-house team, specifically the one that worked on their FCVs), I find it unlikely they would get any useful testing data relevant to their FCVs from this batch of EVs.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          "So FCVs essentially will get about twice the ZEV credits as a BEV based on the rapid refill requirement." Come to think about it, that might be very fair, considering an FCV is more likely to actually be on the road than a BEV; the ability to rapidly refuel means the FCV will be back on the road and moving while the BEV is sitting for an hour or more. In terms of being an auto - more time on the road = more miles driven = more useful as an auto. ;)
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @DaveMart Like Letstakeawalk says, an FCV actually has extra heat to provide for cabin heating, so in that regard, it is much closer to a ICE hybrid than a BEV. Plus you have to blend two power sources: a relatively constant rate (fuel cell) generator and a high discharge rate battery or ultracapacitor. This is no different from blending the power from a ICE genset with a battery (just like a typical hybrid). @Sasparilla Fizz @Letstakeawalk From Letstakeawalk's link (page C-12 and C-13, all range is UDDS): NEV, 0.3 ZEV credits Type 0, 1 ZEV credit, range less than 50 Type I, 2 ZEV credit, range 50-75 Type I.5, 2.5 ZEV credit, range 75-100 Type II, 3 ZEV credits, range 100+ Type III, 4 ZEV credits, range 200+ OR range 100+ AND refill 95 miles in 10 min Type IV, 5 ZEV credits, range 200+ AND refill 190 miles in 15 min Type V, 7 ZEV credits, range 300+ AND refill 285 miles in 15 min The rapid refill requirement was essentially designed to give lots of bonus credits to FCVs because they all would fall under either III, IV or V (most likely the top two). Even the Model S with the fastest available rapid/quick charger at 90kW can only refill about 50-60 miles of UDDS range in 10 minutes. Only the Model S and Roadster would qualify as Type III, because of the 200+ range. An EV like the Leaf would only qualify for Type II. So FCVs essentially will get about twice the ZEV credits as a BEV based on the rapid refill requirement.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          "Good point Jake, I believe the Fuel Cell vehicles count for twice the "credits" or whatever they called that a EV counts for in the CARB." Do you have a source for that? All I can find is that a PZEV gets a partial credit, and that BEVs and FCVs both count the same for ZEV credits. http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2012/cfo2012/res12-11.pdf This chart does indicate that some ZEVs can be given more credit, based on being produced prior to 2009, or having quick-refill capabilities. This would give an advantage to an FCV, but BEVs can also be made capable of quick-charging to satisfy the same requirements (eg. replacing 95 miles range in less than 10 minutes). BEVs that get greater than or equal to 50 miles AER are qualified to get 2x, up to 100mi AER 2.5x, and over 100mi 3x the ZEV credits. Tesla will do exceptionally well, with each Model S counting as 3 ZEVs. Tesla will undoubtedly sell those credits to other automakers as they have no real need to keep them, having no other cars to balance out. http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/levprog/cleandoc/clean_2009_my_hev_tps_12-09.pdf
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @Jake: It depends at what level you are looking at it. The drive in a hybrid is quite distinct between the ICE and the electric motor. That in a FCEV combines the electric output at a much earlier stage, feeding both into one motor.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          You might have a point there, Jake, I am not sure how many components they have in common, although I thought that the involvement of Tesla was with their drive train, not their ancillaries, and there would seem no good reason why many of the components should not be the same, such as the heating and air conditioning and so on.
          Sasparilla Fizz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Good point Jake, I believe the Fuel Cell vehicles count for twice the "credits" or whatever they called that a EV counts for in the CARB.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @Letstakeawalk Given most miles are driven during commuting (where rapid refill doesn't even come in the picture) and the fact that if you are on a long trip with a set destination you will necessarily have to travel the same amount of miles (regardless of the time you take to refill), the ability to rapid refill has no bearing on the actual miles driven in a vehicle. And if their criteria was miles driven, they would have indexed it by miles (although it's extremely hard to enforce/account for and I'm not sure it's that meaningful, given the variance in the driving demand between different drivers). The extra ZEV credits for rapid refill were solely there to give some extra points to FCVs, given no existing or planned EV rapid charger can meet their criteria (besides battery swapping, which may not even count as a "refill"). Plus they cutoff the max range at 200+ if you don't have rapid refill that matches their criteria. That means even though the Model S has 300+ miles of range, it gets the same credits as any BEV with 200+.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          An FCV does have the use of waste heat from the stack for cabin heating purposes, so that's one system not shared with a BEV.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Once you have got the electricity out of the fuel cell or battery that's it, and an FCEV does not deal with it any differently. In contrast in any hybrid including the Prius you have two totally different systems, so for instance the ICE engine provides surplus heat for heating, you have a high temperature exhaust system and so on. Nissan describe themselves as power source agnostic for their electric cars, batteries or fuel cells, and say that most of their non-specific engineering for the stack etc is common to the two types..
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          "Come to think about it, that might be very fair, considering an FCV is more likely to actually be on the road than a BEV; the ability to rapidly refuel means the FCV will be back on the road and moving while the BEV is sitting for an hour or more." LTAW, that is unfair. And at worse, picking winners. Giving more credits for each FCV sold encourages more FCV production, which drives down prices, which leads to more sales. Most Americans, and Californians especially, drive below 40 miles per day... and only need the longer range on rare occasions. You can make the argument that people want a single car that does it all... but MOST miles driven, by far, are done within that commuting radius. CARB should not assume that there will be fewer emissions with FCV than BEVs because they spend less time refueling. They should have equal credits and the market will show.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          Ah... JakeY... thank you. That explains a lot. Why automakers are a bit more conscience about the LA-4 cycle being greater than 100 miles (since that is UDDS)... while not caring as much what the 5-cycle EPA test gets. Yeah, it definitely appears that CARB is still having it's stuff written by the Hydrogen Board. And explains why automakers have a bit more affinity to push FCVs more than BEVs.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          @DaveMart "no good reason why many of the components should not be the same, such as the heating and air conditioning and so on" For those components, even their Prius line-up will already give them all the in-house testing they need. The only component that BEVs and FCVs share that hybrids don't is the drivetrain (esp. given your implication of just dropping in a fuel cell and swapping out the battery; it's not that simple from what I can tell, since almost all modern FCVs are actually fuel-cell/battery hybrids).
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Brave man, mentioning the FCHV-Adv! ;) http://green.autoblog.com/2011/08/03/toyota-says-cost-of-fchv-adv-fuel-cell-protoytpe-is-129-270/
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Yep, FC lift trucks have done very well for themselves. Larger trucks are also hitting the market; Vision just took a $27M order for 100 Class-8 Fuel Cell trucks. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/05/tyrano-20120511.html
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Hi LTAW. In case you have not seen it, it looks as though fuel cells are now fully commercial for fork lift trucks: 'DOE says that the success of its fuel cell deployment and market transformation projects have led industry to plan additional purchases of more than 3,000 fuel cell powered lift trucks without any DOE funding. The majority of these fuel cell systems will be supplied through US fuel cell manufacturers.' http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/05/doefc-20120514.html I don't know if there are any other grants they get in the US, but this is real progress for the use of fork lifts, presumably indoors and in other locations where pollution is critical.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Very brave indeed. But I fully agree with TTS in their purchase in these trucks. http://www.tts-i.com/sustainability/sustainability.html The operate short range around the Port of Los Angeles. So HFCV trucks are perfect. The get reduced emissions, and thus exemption of port fees. And the most important thing...they can operate their own fueling station since the distances are not far. And thus avoid any infrastructure problem. Forklifts are a natural fit too. ------------------------ HFCVs DO fit in select niches.. and very well. I only argue when people seem to think that HFCVs will become a large part of the passenger vehicle market in the U.S... which IS reliant on significant infrastructure.
      Dave D
      • 2 Years Ago
      This one is very obvious: - It lets them have a green halo car - it gives them a full EV so they can gain some experience with them in case it ever takes off - They minimize cost by using an existing platform and dumping the battery work on Tesla - They meet some of the California ZEV mandates and get other credits - They can do low volume to keep their costs of support down and charge a load for them because they don't care how many they sell. Which one of these are most important? It depends on which Toyota exec you ask...and which day. This is a no-brainer from their perspective.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      What about Tesla's capability as a supplier? Tesla is pretty busy ramping up for the Model S, and they also have commitments to Daimler... Perhaps Toyota is keeping their RAV4 numbers low so as not to overwhelm Tesla's ability to supply components.
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Toyota's not stupid, this is just testing Toyota's EV tech without paying anything for it. It's all subcontracted to Tesla and I'm sure the risks are distributed over to them as well. Kinda like how Ford is selling the focus EV, but it's all sub contracted to a canadian firm. This way, they spend minimal R&D, get the results, have real life testing, and all they have to do is build the frame and guarantee the frame. They know people wont buy it in droves.
      Edge
      • 2 Years Ago
      Being conservative with such an expensive program is understandable. I don't see much of a market in highend EV's that only get about 100 miles. As battery technology improves, then I can see this segment open up more. Sub-compacts is the market for EV's, when it comes to mass production.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Edge
        A RAV4 is high-end? This RAV4 EV is high-price but not so high-end, IMHO.
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nobody will be able afford to buy a car soon with these draconian Californian laws, it will price Average Joe Californian out of all but micro cars. Not unless Walmart import cheap Chinese made electric SUV's or pick-ups like the Great Wall Steed or Wingle that will be arriving soon whether we like it or not, which will be a total disaster for the Big 3 and the US auto industry. Would rather buy a nice Classic Tesla sports car if l was going to waste this much money, or move out of California where the laws are more car friendly and buy a nice Raptor.
      amtoro
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toyota's approach seems to be of the same chicken-and-egg type as before. Not training their dealers on the EV's means people in other markets will not feel confident to buy one (even those adventurous enough to have it trucked across the country) because there will be no service for it where they live. and in turn, Toyota says it will not offer it for sale in other markets because not enough customers are interested. What a stupid approach. One must admire Nissan's courage to offer the LEAF for sale across the world (little by little) as it shows its commitment to their product. Toyota is just keeping the cards close and reserving the right to say "see? people do not really want it, we will stick with Priuses"
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @amtoro
        Toyota themselves say this car is designed to "meet the California ZEV mandate" Simple as that.
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @amtoro
        And I thought Ford was being conservative with the tepid Focus EV launch. Max sales/leases of 900 a year is selling themselves short.
        lad
        • 2 Years Ago
        @amtoro
        Boy, you got it right on! Watch for Nissan in the next few years as they capture the EV market; With each car they sell, they covert a family to EVs. I expect they will pull new rabbits out of the hat from now on. I'm talking a better and less costly battery with every two year generation from this point on.
      Anne
      • 2 Years Ago
      I remember statements from Toyota executives that they do not yet find lithium batteries durable enough. They want to sell a car with a battery that lasts the life time of the vehicle. Guaranteed. That's why they still use NiMH in the Prius and Prius-C. They can not say that out loud, because they are selling vehicles with lithium batteries (Prius-V, plugin Prius and now the RAV-4 EV) and can not throw doubt on their products.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Anne
        Well, I think I remember an exec saying they were not going to get into battery electric vehicles at all a few years ago! Wiki article indicates 1st gen had range up to 120 miles. Very interesting reading in the wiki article. Would the 1st gen have a range of 200 miles with a lithium battery pack? Watch former Lotus exec Albert Lam reveal why OEM electric cars do not have greater ranges [replace (DOT) with . ]: cnbc(DOT)com/id/15840232?play=1&video=1173644231
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          Be careful with the 'up to' claims. Using the same 'up to' metric, the LEAF has a range of 138 miles :) http://green.autoblog.com/2010/06/14/nissan-pegs-leaf-range-between-47-and-138-miles-individual-resu
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Anne
        Well, I think I remember an exec saying they were not going to get into battery electric vehicles at all a few years ago! Wiki article indicates 1st gen had range up to 120 miles. Very interesting reading in the wiki article. Would the 1st gen have a range of 200 miles with a lithium battery pack? Watch former Lotus exec Albert Lam reveal why OEM electric cars do not have greater ranges [replace (DOT) with . ]: cnbc(DOT)com/id/15840232?play=1&video=1173644231
        Mike
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Anne
        The Toyota small battery strategy does inherently stress the battery more than a BEV. I don't see anything wrong with them continuing to use NiMH. Honda on the other hand had to cripple the Civic Hybrids already on the road to prevent costly warranty claims.
      • 2 Years Ago
      What would a 1st generation RAV4-ev with a 34% more powerful [and much lighter] battery pack mean? Looks like about a 140 mile real world range. Like the former Lotus exec reveals in the video I shared said, the OEMs could build them with higher ranges, but they want to keep them in niche market territory so as not to impinge on their ICE sales, and, no doubt, interlocking relations with BIG OIL. Similar note seems to extend to electric motorscooter sales in US with gross markups or non-offerings.
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Due to Honda's mismanagement of the NiMH batts in their cars (if managed properly, like Toyota does, they should last the life of the cars.
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