Toyota RAV4 EV
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When it comes to battery-electric vehicles, our friend Brad Berman over at Plug In Cars says 40 miles makes all the difference in the world. That's the approximate difference in single-charge range between the battery-electric version of the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Leaf. It's also the difference between the appearance or disappearance of range anxiety.

The 50-percent battery increase has zapped any lingering range anxiety, Berman writes.

The RAV4 EV possesses a 40-kilowatt-hour pack, compared to the 24-kWh pack in the Leaf. After factoring in differences in size, weight and other issues, that means the compact SUV gets about 120 miles on a single charge in realistic driving conditions, compared to about 80 miles in the Leaf. "The 50 percent increase in battery size from Leaf to RAV has zapped any lingering range anxiety," Berman writes.

His observations further feed the notion that drivers need substantial backup juice in order to feel comfortable driving EVs. Late last year, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), along with the Consumers Union estimated that about 42 percent of US households could drive plug-in vehicles with "little or no change" in their driving habits, and that almost 70 percent of US commuters drive fewer than 60 miles per weekday.

That would imply that a substantial swath of the country should be comfortable using a car like the Leaf as their daily driver - with first-quarter Leaf sales jumping 46 percent from a year before, more Americans certainly are. Still, the implication here is that EV sales will continue to be on the margins until an automaker steps up battery capabilities to 120 or so miles while keeping the price in the $30,000 range. Think that's a reasonable goal to shoot for?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      Alan Stewart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Of course more miles for the dollar will increase the attractiveness of EVs, but from what I can see here in Atlanta - LEAF sightings - sales of LEAFs appear to have exploded in the last couple of months. That might be a response to the Georgia legislature limiting funding for the state tax credit... I've never come anywhere near draining my LEAF's battery in my daily work commute which averages 40 miles a day, including side trips. Eighty is plenty, but who wouldn't appreciate more? I could use the LEAF for more things. I sure find driving it more fun that driving my ICE car.
        mumbojumbo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Alan Stewart
        The GA state legislative session ended for 2014 without any changes to the EV tax credit. Still $5000, still unlimited number of credits allowed. There is talk of a modified bill being introduced next year that would keep the same $5000 credit but cap the overall credits to $10,000,000. for each year. As for the Leaf, I agree, I love mine. It's fun to drive as far as I'm concerned. I have a new Mustang, old Capri, Honda CBR motorcycle, and I still drive the Leaf more than any of the others. I don't think it needs a lot more range. Maybe another 20 miles to bring an even 100 miles. There are still a few places I don't travel with mine due to the limited range.
      Anderlan
      • 6 Months Ago
      Anything is an improvement. The range of your gas car past E on the fuel gauge is equal to the total range of a LEAF. I've totally been riding around on $8 at a time since I realized this as practice for a LEAF. They really do need to hurry up and release something more capacious and steal some of Tesla's thunder.
      SteveM
      • 6 Months Ago
      I drive about 100 miles a day, so I'd want my car's nominal range to be double that. So for me, I'd rather see 200 miles be the minimum. But I realize that a lot of people don't drive anywhere near that much.
        Joeviocoe
        • 6 Months Ago
        @SteveM
        Vast majority, not just "a lot",.. of people, do not drive anywhere near that much. You will have to wait for 4th and 5th gen EVs.... while everyone else can be satisfied with 2nd gen.
      Rotation
      • 6 Months Ago
      The RAV4 EV does not get 120 miles in realistic use. Not even close. I mean wow, where does this stuff come from? On the highway you'll have to have real nerve just to get 100. In the city 100 isn't too hard. But 120 is never easy in that car. Add DCFC capability to cars and spread some chargers around and you get a lot more usability than this 100 mile non-FC vehicle has.
        Spiffster
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        Yes, it does, actually.
          Electron
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spiffster
          The car does have a 102 mile EPA rating though which is curiously low for a 42KWh battery pack. Maybe that doesn't include the "extended charge"?
          Rotation
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spiffster
          Spiffster: There are plenty of people who have gotten 100 miles out of a LEAF, but that doesn't mean 80% of it (80 miles) is easy. Maybe you have a different definition of "easy" than other people?
          Spiffster
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spiffster
          Let me clarify, in extended charge mode I can easily get 120 miles out of a charge... We are talking mostly highway with some back-roads. Thats with no hyper-miling. There are people on myrav4ev.com who have squeezed more than 150 miles out of the RAV4 EV. 120 is totally doable without much effort.
        Airton Azevedo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        The RAV4 EV sure does! I drove mine for 132 miles (65 mph all highway) yesterday 4 miles remaining on GOM at arrival thank you.
      diffrunt
      • 6 Months Ago
      my money is on a small, next gen battery pack, constant duty opposed piston engine , linear gen.
      BipDBo
      • 6 Months Ago
      40 mile range from batteries with an engine to take over is perfect for me.
      Yang
      • 1 Year Ago
      Kind of agree. My commute is 90mi round-trip and I will have no range anxiety whatsoever if it can do >120mi a charge.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Kind of proving the efficiency design of the Volt?
      Tim Vollmer
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think Tesla's experience trying to sell 150 mile range EV demonstrates that this probably isn't true for the mass market, as only 4% of their deposits were for the 40 kwh version. The author's experience is naturally going to be biased here. If what you're used to is a Leaf an extra 50% range is going to feel like more than enough. When you're used to hundreds of miles like most drivers, 120 is nothing to get excited about. I personally considered the 150 mile range Tesla, but decided against it because of limited range and bought a Volt instead. It lets me drive on pure electricity all but once or twice a month for the next 3 years until a 200 mile pure EV is available for $30-40k.
        danfred311
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Tim Vollmer
        You say 200km is not enough yet you do ok with just the Volt range. 200km plus fast charge would be plenty for you, nespa.
        David Murray
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Tim Vollmer
        I don't think Tesla can be used as a metric for comparing to other cars like a Leaf. Mainly because anyone who can afford a Tesla can probably afford the larger battery. So it just makes sense that their customers would go for the top end model. I think a 150 mile Leaf would satisfy 99% of the population's needs, especially if there were enough fast charge stations to allow regional trips in the car. I have no desire to drive across country. But sometimes I want to drive from Ft.Worth to Austin. That would be easy in a 150-mile range Leaf with a couple of charging stops along the way.
        Rotation
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Tim Vollmer
        Tesla's story is not at all representative. The lead time on the 40kWh was always long, up until the moment it was cancelled. We could have found out the real demand for a 40kWh vehicle if Tesla had kept it alive as the lead time dropped to a few weeks. Well, at least the demand for one at that price range.
          Rotation
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Grendal: I agree it didn't make fiscal sense for Tesla to keep the 40kWh version. Their margins are already lower than they wanted, the 40kWh would be a money loser. I'm just saying the reason it was dropped is more about financials than demand.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          Tesla could have adjusted financials if they really wanted to keep the car. Initial demand was low enough to drop the whole thing for a smaller hit than going through the whole EPA process. Tesla screwed over those that needed a lower price point but promised the Model E to fulfill the need. The downside is the years of waiting. I couldn't wait and will be forced to get an S even though it is way too big for my needs. Boo-hoo for me. I will test drive the S next month to find out if it will be worth it for me.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Rotation
          But it didn't make fiscal sense when the demand for the larger packs take up all the manufacturing capability. For those that don't want to spend as much then they will just have to wait for the Model E. It's not fair but Tesla can afford to anger a few people.
        itsme38269
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Tim Vollmer
        Tesla never tried to sell a 150 mile range EV. Endlessly delaying release and then canceling a project before it starts isn't really "trying to sell" anything. The 4% number is also incorrect, because it took into account signature cars and many other factors - such as people who canceled or switched to 60kWh because they were tired of getting jerked around with delays on the 40kWh.
          danfred311
          • 6 Months Ago
          @itsme38269
          such a fanboy. the few who paid for 40kWh version got paid off so they could eliminate the 40kWh version, not because nobody wanted it but because Tesla was losing too much money on it. In reality it might have accounted for 20-30% of sales or even greater if they hadn't artificially prevented it from supercharging. With a good supercharging network you don't need the range and 50k$ has a much much bigger market than 100k. The 40kWh version was obviously eliminated to cover the fact that they failed to make it a 50k$ car. They are barely breaking even at 100k average sale price despite far greater volume than hoped for.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @itsme38269
          Boo-hoo. It wasn't that bad. It ended up being spectacular for those that hung in there and waited. They got a better car that didn't cost them anything extra. The 40 kWh pack was there so Elon could show a car that had a price tag of $50K as he promised. It ended up not being necessary or really wanted. Tesla got to learn there was enough demand for the larger packs and not enough demand for an expensive car with a shorter range.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @itsme38269
          Dan. That is such BS. You say you're a smart guy then you put out a comment like that. How hard is it for Tesla to raise the price of the car so they are making profit? They came out with their $50K car and when it wasn't selling as much as they liked they dropped it for a loss. It would have been cheaper to go ahead and put out the car and raise its price to whatever was needed by your statement. The same reasoning came to me. I originally thought I'd get a 60 kWh pack car but talked myself into getting the 85 kWh pack for the extra range and extra speed. That way I could use the Supercharger network to the best advantage. $10K over 10 years is really not much money. So I decided to spend the extra when I buy the car.
      joel3436
      • 6 Months Ago
      $9000. is a lot for toy car. $30,000.? koo koo
      FREEPAT75014
      • 6 Months Ago
      On Pure EVs, for sure the more and the faster to recharge the better, but unless you add a Range Entender, for me the range anxiety will always be there. This said, my average Daily commutes are 65KM or 45M, with picks of 150KM or 100M. Personally I leave in a big city and we can only have one car (single car park slot) that must be capable to do everything, including summer vacations with family and language on board. So I only consider a Plug-In Hybrid at this stage, not a Full-EV of any sort including beloved TESLA. A Range Extender is absolutely mandatory for me. In that case I could jump in my 1st PHEV with only 30KWH or even 25KWH, but then I need that fit in a real-car / SUV form factor, ideally BMW X4 or X6, or X5. Current 1st PHEV tentatives, with all Germans targeting less than 10KWH batterie lilke current best X5 eDrive will fall too short. I'll wait for a 2nd wave to follow shortly, hopefully next year, with 3X more battery to jump into them, assuming a DECENT pricing this time, which is far to be granted considering previous price tags put on previous meaningless Hybrids by BMW...
      igotzzoom
      • 6 Months Ago
      120 miles (realistic) range would work for me. I have a 100-mile round trip commute. There are some recharging facilities close to my work, but might not always be an option every day. I wish Chevy would make an EV version of the Sonic. I like the idea and look of the Spark EV, but it's just too darn small. Might be persuaded to hold out for the "mass-market" Tesla, if it's somewhat affordable.
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @igotzzoom
        100 mile commute everyday? You might want to consider moving closer to work or working closer to home. Why would you want to lose 2 hours of your life to driving every day? I did that for like 8 months and eventually stopped doing that.
          Snowdog
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Yep, if you are commuting 100 miles a day, you have bigger issues than needing a big EV battery.
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