Rav4 EV History

1st Generation Rav4 Electric Vehicle

picture of a 1997 Toyota Rav4 at a car show

Back in 1997, Toyota released the first fleet version of the Toyota Rav 4 EV. In 2001, Toyota made it possible for businesses, cities or utilities to lease a few of the Rav4 electric vehicles. Toyota then sold or leased 328 Rav4 EVs to the public in 2003. Despite waiting lists of perspective customers, Toyota cancelled the Rav 4 electric vehicle program.

Closely related to the gasoline powered Rav4, the Rav4 EV has a top speed of 78mph and a range of 100-120 miles. The battery pack has a capacity of 27 kWh and is made of nickel metal-hydride cells. Apparently some of the first generation Rav4 EVs have achieved up to 150,000 miles on the original battery pack. Recharge time takes about 5 hours from a 220 volt charger. Batteries are monitored with a passive battery balancing system.

The Rav4 EV was one of the few vehicles with a single speed automatic transmission likely due to the fact that electric motors have the most torque at low rotational speeds.

Besides the batteries, battery controller, and electric motor, the Rav4 EV shares the rest of it’s components with the gasoline Rav4. The passenger compartment is heated electrically since there is no engine cooling system to scavenge heat from.

Once Toyota decided to scrap the program, they realized they had sold more than they had planned to manufacture. Toyota filled every order despite having to assemble the last few dozen vehicles from spare parts due to the shortfall of production components.

2nd Generation Rav4 Electric Vehicle

Rav4 EV phase 0 demonstrator at Auto ShowSince May 2010, Toyota and Tesla have been working together to develop a second generation Rav4 EV using Tesla batteries and motors and Toyota’s platform and body. The first prototype was built in 3 weeks after the Tesla Toyota agreement and testing began in July 2010.

In November 2010 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota unveiled the Rav4 EV demonstrator. 35 of these converted Rav4 vehicles were built for an evaluation program that ran through 2011.

The electric 2012 Rav4 will be assembled at Toyota’s facility in Woodstock, Ontario, while the electric powertrain is being built at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory.

The US launch of the 2012 Rav4 EV is planned for late in the third quarter of 2012. The Rav4 EV will only be sold in California, beginning with San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Toyota is limiting production to 2600 Rav 4 electric vehicles during the first 3 years, and the initial roll-out of the EV will be available to fleet customers and individual consumers.

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