Tag archives for rav4 ev

Toyota shows off RAV4 EV’s eco tricks with new videos





If a picture paints a thousand words, Toyota’s hoping that a couple videos do a little better than that for its RAV4 Electric Vehicle.



The Japanese automaker recently released a couple of videos touting the EV and its evolution through the company’s partnership with Tesla Motors. The first five-plus-minute video features engineers discussing the benefits of collaborating with Tesla, including software advancements and battery technology that complemented Toyota’s engine-packaging expertise.



The other video, clocking in at almost five minutes, delves into the issue of aerodynamics and how engineers cut drag coefficient in an effort to boost range and chip away at drivers’ potential feelings of “range anxiety.” Toyota used its sleekest wheels, tires and headlamp lenses while customizing the front facia, adding a rear spoiler, removing the roof rack and smoothing out the underbody in order to allow the SUV to better cut the wind.



Toyota, which first announced the RAV4 EV in 2010, said in May that the SUV will have a 100-mile single-charge range and will be priced at $49,800, with sales starting by the end of this year. Initial markets will be contained to California and Toyota is only expecting to make and sell around 2,600 vehicles during the first three years.



You can see the videos below.

Related GalleryToyota RAV4 EV

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By Danny King

Popular Science magazine’s Best Of What’s New 2012 all ate up with cars





Popular Science has named the winners in its Best of What’s New awards, the victors coming in the categories of aerospace, automotive, engineering, entertainment, gadgets, green, hardware, health, home, recreation, security and software. The automotive category did not go wanting for lauded advancements:

  • Tesla Model S: the Grand Award winner for being “the standard by which all future electric vehicles will be measured.”
  • BMW 328i: it’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gets called out for being more powerful and frugal than the six-cylinder it replaces.
  • Ferrari F12 Berlinetta: towering power, towering top speed, 30 percent more fuel efficient than the 599 Fiorano it replaces.
  • Toyota RAV4 EV: the all-electric SUV accelerates better than many conventional SUVs, goes 100 mph and actually beats EPA mileage estimates.
  • Porsche Cayenne Diesel: 406 pound-feet of torque, 33 highway mpg, up to 800 miles from a single tank and Cayenne style, give ‘em a trophy.
  • 2013 Ford Fusion: its three flavors – standard, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid – “are the most efficient models in their classes,” that latter one expected to outdo the Chevrolet Volt’s EPA mileage rating.
  • The DeltaWing: gets kudos for being “the most efficient racecar in history.”
  • Mercedes-Benz Magic Vision Control: a holistic solution to keeping your windshield clean and clear year-round.
  • General Motors’ MyLink: takes the in-car computer out of the car, puts it in the driver’s smartphone.
  • Infiniti Back-Up Collision Intervention: rear-mounted radar and sonar keep track of what’s behind you and brake automatically if an obstacle is detected so you don’t hit things when you back that Infiniti up.

The automotive category tied with categories like aerospace and health for the number of awards. Congratulations to all the winners, head on over to PopSci for the full details on each of them.

Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive

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By Jonathon Ramsey

Reviewing the Toyota RAV4 EV

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV.Bradley Berman for The New York Times2012 Toyota RAV4 EV.

In Sunday’s Automobiles section, Bradley Berman reviews the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, a purely electric version of the compact crossover with a drivetrain sourced from Tesla Motors.

The RAV4 has always been respectible, if not a standout in its crowded segment. A power-source transplant, however, works wonders for the Toyota’s on-road personality, as Mr. Berman writes:

I punched the Sport button on the all-electric Toyota RAV4 EV that I had been driving for two days and slammed the accelerator to the floor. The burst of power — in a blink it kicked me past the 75 m.p.h. traffic in the fast lanes — was not what I expected from a small battery-powered crossover.

The electric surge was transformational. Still gaining speed at a good clip, I could easily have zoomed to the 100 m.p.h. top speed listed in Toyota’s specifications.

Though only 2,600 units of the RAV4 EV will be produced, Mr. Berman expects the car’s cult to grow well beyond the constraints of that modest number.

Read the entire review, check out the slide show and share your thoughts on the RAV4 EV in the comments.

By THE NEW YORK TIMES

‘Real world’ electric vehicle test easily beats EPA ratings

Toyota RAV4 EV



Some Republicans decry what they say are the liberal leanings of the federal government, but when it comes to rating the single-charge range of electric vehicles, the feds’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is decidedly conservative.



At least, this is what Edmunds found in a recent EV road test of nine models, including the Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf and a prototype version of the Volkswagen e-Golf. In fact, all eight non-prototype vehicles beat their EPA ratings in a 105.5 mile course through Orange County, CA, that Edmunds says “includes exactly zero freeway miles, more than a few hills and dozens of signals and stop signs along the way.” Edmunds says the cars, which were driven during rush-hour morning traffic, didn’t hit speeds of more than 50 miles per hour and didn’t use any air conditioning.



The proverbial superstar of the group was the Toyota RAV4 EV, which lasted 144.5 miles (i.e. it had 40 miles left at the end of its lap), or about 40 percent more than its stated range. The Ford Focus EV reached about 100 miles, compared to its 76-mile single-charge range rating, while the BMW ActiveE, Coda Sedan and Honda Fit EV all cleared 100 miles and beat their EPA ratings by 15 percent to 20 percent. The Leaf surpassed its 73-mile rating by 20 miles, while the Tesla exceeded its 265-mile rating by about four miles. The VW came in just short of 100 miles, while the Mitsubishi i beat its 62-mile-range by an impressive 14 miles.



Of course, Edmunds couldn’t resist getting some performance numbers from the EVs, and those held up as well. It’s no surprise that the Model S went from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a tidy 4.3 seconds, but the RAV4 also turned out to be pretty quick, going from 0 to 60 in 7.7 seconds. The Bimmer, Coda, Honda and Ford all went from 0 to 60 in just under 10 seconds, while the VW and Nissan came in at about 10-seconds flat. Only the Mitsubishi turned in a golf-cartish 0-60 time of 14.9 seconds. Check out all of Edmunds‘ summary here.

Related Gallery2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: First Drive

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By Danny King

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV [w/video]

Tesla-Hearted Toyota Offers Real Sport And Utility



2012 RAV4 EV



The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is the most advanced Alpha prototype electric vehicle we’ve ever driven. Or maybe it’s a poster child for the 21st Century automotive industry where all sorts of new things are being tried, like when old-school automakers and ambitious start-ups find common purpose in rushing an all-electric crossover to market in two years. Or maybe it’s the end result of a decade-long process of getting the Japanese automaker to bring back its popular – by EV standards, anyway – first-gen RAV4 EV for the new era of electric cars? It is, of course, all of these things, and that’s what makes the RAV4 EV such an interesting vehicle: It not only offers surprisingly good performance on the road, it can also tell you some compelling stories as you jump from 0-60 in seven seconds. In a CUV. With an easy-to-achieve 100-mile range.



Most compelling, perhaps, is that the RAV4 EV is a real electric crossover with a real on-sale date. Namely, $49,800 (before any tax credits) and late summer 2012. Of course, the problem, aside from the hefty price, is that this CUV will only be available – initially, anyway – in four major California markets: Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles/Orange County. Since the RAV4 EV will go on sale in The OC (don’t call it that), it made sense that Toyota brought journalists to Newport Beach for some time behind the wheel. If you’re not interested in the technical details or the three story lines we saw represented, here’s all you need to know. When we first put the RAV4 EV into Sport driving mode, our honest reaction was to say out loud: “Holy crap!”

Related Gallery2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: First Drive

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2013 Toyota RAV4 EV side view2013 Toyota RAV4 EV front view2013 Toyota RAV4 EV rear view



The second-generation RAV4 EV isn’t really the second-generation at all. Toyota stopped making the original RAV4 EV in 2003 and there hasn’t been much work done (publicly, at least) since then. In fact, it is unlikely that the 2012 version would have come to pass had Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk not announced in May 2010 that they would work together on electric vehicles, with the RAV4 EV being named as the candidate vehicle in July.


“People love SUVs and their current moral dilemma is the need for occasional versatility at the expense of everyday fuel economy.”

As we noted in our Quick Spin of an early RAV4 EV prototype last year, the project is a rush job. We saw the first prototype at the LA Auto Show in November and the first demonstration program vehicles were on the road in February 2011. The frenetic pace doesn’t mean that Toyota was first to bring an EV to the current market, just that the company was very clearly not interested in waiting any longer to offer something without a tailpipe.



It also happens to be an EV unlike anything else on the market. As Greg Bernas, chief engineer in the product development office (PDO) at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC), put it, “For us, the RAV4 was the obvious choice. We knew there was a void in the product offering in the market, and the RAV4, we felt, fit that void perfectly. Also, people love SUVs and their current moral dilemma is the need for occasional versatility at the expense of everyday fuel economy. Not so with the RAV4 EV.”



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV badge2013 Toyota RAV4 EV badge2013 Toyota RAV4 EV badge



Since the summer of 2010, then, Toyota and Tesla engineers have worked to adapt the Silicon Valley powertrain into a RAV4 V6. After deciding that Toyota would be in charge – originally, each thought the other would lead the development – the engineers started with a current-gen internal combustion-powered RAV4 and got to work. Snagging the long-in-the-tooth model means that, when the new version of that vehicles arrives, possibly later this year, the electric version will retain the older styling. Right now, the EV has new exterior features that identify it as having rejected the gas-burning engine – things like a markedly different front fascia and grille, unique mirrors, light fixtures, a rear spoiler, as well as EV badging all around.


The aero tweaks give the RAV4 EV a cD of .30, which Toyota points out is more like a sedan than your average CUV.

All of the exterior’s zero-emission chrome doesn’t hide the fact that this is still a RAV4, it’s just that this is a significantly more aerodynamic RAV4. Those mirrors, for example, are styled after the Camry that’s sold in Korea and reduce the coefficient of drag by 1.1 percent. The rear spoiler? A 2.5-percent improvement. The smoother underbody, which is possible thanks to there being a battery there instead of a lot of mufflers and whatnot? An 8.2-percent improvement. All together, the aero tweaks give the RAV4 EV a cD of .30, which Toyota points out is more like a sedan than your average CUV. When asked why these sorts of little improvements were not added to the gas-burning RAV4, Toyota’s Sheldon Brown, the executive program manager in the TTC’s PDO department, said that it’s not so simple. The underbody panels, for example, didn’t need to be designed to deal with a hot exhaust pipe and so you can’t just use the same plastic and shape on the ICE RAV4. The mirrors and rear spoilers, though? Those seem easy enough to use no matter what the powertrain, so we’ll keep our eyes open when the new model appears.



But the lesson here is clear: Make the vehicle as slippery as you can and the range will thank you for it. When Toyota unwrapped the RAV4 EV, it was proudly “powered by Tesla,” and based on all of the discussions we had with Toyota representatives about the 100-mile-plus range of the RAV4 EV – thanks in large part to Tesla’s 41.8-kWh battery – Toyota is still proud of the benefits it received out of the deal.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV headlight2013 Toyota RAV4 EV wheel2013 Toyota RAV4 EV charging port2013 Toyota RAV4 EV taillight


The RAV4 EV uses the same AC induction motor as the Model S with a different gear set.

Does Tesla or Toyota come out the winner from this partnership? It’s unclear. Sure, there’s a case to be made that they are both winners, but if we had to guess, it kind of feels like Tesla might be getting the better deal. Toyota, which is also working on other cars with plugs – namely the all-electric Scion iQ EV (coming soon) and the Prius Plug-in (now available) – has learned about a different way to integrate a battery and how to develop an electric powertrain for a large vehicle. The RAV4 EV weighs 4,032 pounds, after all, compared to the ICE RAV4′s range of 3,360 to 3,699 pounds, depending on trim level and engine, and weight kills efficiency. The aero tweaks, powertrain enhancements and low-rolling resistance P225/65R17 all-season tires all work together here to make up that difference.



Tesla, too, learned something about making an electric CUV – the RAV4 EV uses the same AC induction motor as the Model S with a different gear set, for example, and the two companies jointly filed patents on the battery structure design to make the pack fit into the ICE platform – but when you look at the overall picture for the two firms, Tesla has more to gain. The company is currently developing the Model X CUV, which shares the Tesla Vehicle Platform with the Model S, and this is why we can look at the RAV4 EV as a sort of stealth test bed for the Model X, that we can see the RAV4 EV as a weird alpha prototype. The official line is that this is not the case. Christina Ra, Tesla’s senior manager of communications, told us that since the Model X is, like the Model S, built from the ground up to truly leverage the EV powertrain, “It’s safe to say that the experiences of developing Model S and RAV4 EV were very different – and both very successful – for Tesla. Model X development will follow suit more closely to Tesla’s experiences with Model S.”


Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV



But the evolution of the Model X is a story for another time. Today, the focus is on the RAV4 EV, and what it’s like behind the wheel. As we said, “Holy crap.”


Click over to Sport mode, where the dash turns red and the top speed climbs to an impressive and illegal 100 mph, and you won’t notice the noise.

Those were the words of my driving companion for the day, Autoblog writer Michael Harley (who is more used to testing 500-horsepower gas-guzzling supercars than electric CUVs) uttered the first time he engaged Sport mode and accelerated. His words don’t mean the RAV4 EV – with a motor that has a maximum output of about 115 kW, or around 154 horsepower – was as quick as a supercar, but the 0-30 miles per hour performance certainly exceeded the expectations of a veteran road tester not used to the instant torque of an electric vehicle.



That is, at least in Sport mode, with its 273 pound-feet. In Normal mode where the 0-60 time drops to 8.6 seconds, max torque falls to 218 lb-ft and top speed is 85 mph, people would likely assume it was just a surprisingly powerful ICE CUV if you didn’t tell them the car was electric. A quiet one, with just a hint of road noise in the rear, but nothing that’s overly bothersome or that can’t be overcome by turning up the radio. Click over to Sport mode, where the dash turns red and the top speed climbs to an impressive and illegal 100 mph, and you won’t notice the noise. Shift from D to B for extra braking power – which brings back the enthusiastic regen of the prototype – and it might just be the most fun you can have using just one foot, outside of a Tesla-branded vehicle, of course. The front-wheel drive RAV4 EV uses blended braking, with regenerative brakes to capture energy and hydraulic brakes that kick in when the force required to stop the CUV exceeds the ability of the regen brakes. When in D, this is all transparent and feels like an ICE vehicle.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV engine



The truth is, the RAV4 EV can almost be too fast. We managed to keep it roughly at the speed limit – mostly because we were boxed in by southern California traffic on the highway – but we heard multiple reports from other drivers who were shocked to realize they were going over 90 mph. The quiet smoothness of the RAV4 EV easily hides this. This is why we’re pretty sure that Toyota would sell more of these if it lets people test the Sport mode out for themselves. Well, it would if the beancounters had any faith in this EV (they don’t), but we’ll get into that below.


If you’re prone to range anxiety, then “max range” is your comfort number.

From the test drive position, the RAV4 EV steals from the Prius (the shifter is lifted from the third-gen hybrid model) and like many modern vehicles that have gone on a knob-diet, it has lost tactile input devices in favor of a touchscreen (for navigation, music and apps) and capacitative touch switchgear (HVAC controls). As much as we like what these screens show us, we still feel that physical buttons beat touchscreens any day of the week, any hour of the day. Also, the smudge-loving glossy panels to either side of the screen need to go. Even with these complaints, the new center stack does wonders to update the look of the inside of the RAV4; the ICE model’s interior has been around since 2005, a painfully long time in such a hot segment.



Toyota has done something interesting with the “miles to empty” display, and that is to give you two numbers. The first, the one you’ll use most of the time, is how many miles you’ll be able to go if you keep up your current driving style and HVAC settings. The second, the one you’ll never use until you really, really need it, is the “max range.” That is, if you turned off the A/C or heater and drove like there’s an egg under the acceleration pedal, how far could you go? If you’re prone to range anxiety, then this is your comfort number.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV interior2013 Toyota RAV4 EV front seats2013 Toyota RAV4 EV gauges2013 Toyota RAV4 EV gear selector



These two numbers give rise to two differently shaded circles on the navigation map screen when you ask the vehicle how far you’ll be able to drive. After you select between one-way and round trip, the screen shows you a rough estimate of just how far away you could end up from where you currently sit. If your destination is in that target area, especially in the lighter, inner circle, start driving and don’t worry about range, emissions or finding time to gas up.


Official EPA estimates are not out yet, but the RAV4 EV appears to be a true 100-mile electric vehicle.

It can be kind of fun to play with this map and the HVAC settings to see how much your range changes based on how quickly you want to get hot or cold. There are four HVAC modes: Normal, Eco Lo, Eco Hi and off. Off gives you max range and Normal the least. The two Eco modes split the middle, and we were perfectly comfortable with Eco Hi (the more efficient of the two) during our drive.



So, how much range is in the battery? We started our drive with a full battery and the max range read 155 miles. We then proceeded to run around The OC (don’t call it that) on a day with temperatures in the high 70s with the air conditioner on Eco Hi and spent most of the time in Sport mode – why wouldn’t we? – and, after 40.5 miles in the city, highway and going up and down hills, our max range was still 92 miles. The EcoCoach said we scored a poor 68 out of 100, and our “keep driving like this” range estimate was just under 70 miles. Official EPA estimates are not out yet, but based on our limited testing, the RAV4 EV appears to be a true 100-mile electric vehicle.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV climate controls


Toyota will warranty the battery for eight years, 100,000 miles.

It can be, at least. On top of the driving modes and the HVAC modes, Toyota also offers two charging modes, standard and extended. Toyota has partnered with Leviton to offer a 40-amp home charging station (lower amperage versions are also available) for $1,590 installed, but the RAV4 EV does not have a DC fast charging option. Standard charging, which is what Toyota recommends people use most of the time and only charges the pack to 35 kWh full, should get a 92 mile-range estimate from the EPA. This will take as little as five hours when using a 40-amp, 240-volt system. Extended uses the whole 41.8 kWh and would get 113 miles from the EPA, taking six hours to fully charge. Lower output charging stations will obviously extend this time, and with a regular 120-volt home outlet, it would take over 44 hours to fill an empty battery. As for the RAV4 EV’s final EPA range number, it will be a blend of these two modes. No matter which mode you charge in, Toyota will warranty the battery for eight years, 100,000 miles. Both the standard and extended mode use the 10 kW on-board charger.



Aside from the expected smartphone apps, the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf both have a little charging indicator light on the dashboard, visible from outside the car. On the RAV4 EV, this light is located in the tinted window above the charging post, which itself is above the passenger side rear wheel. Toyota uses two lights to lights to indicate what the status is:



a. Left light blinking: charging is zero to 50 percent complete

b. Left light on, right side blinking: charging is 50 to 99 percent complete

c. Both lights on: charge complete

d. Both lights blinking: charging malfunction



Did we mention there’s a smartphone app?







Which brings us to the big picture. A decade ago, Toyota was selling a RAV4 EV that was based on the gas-powered RAV4, got around 100 to 120 miles of range and had a top speed of 78 mph. 450 of those vehicles are still around. We’ve been in them. Owners love them and have been asking the company for years to offer them again, even though the old RAV4 EVs still work great. Around 2,000 hand raisers have already said they’d like to know more about the 2012 RAV4 EV.


Rear cargo space is unchanged at 73 cubic feet behind the front row with the rear seats folded down.

Today, Toyota is getting ready to sell an electric CUV with almost the exact same specs as the one from 2002. Sure, so much has been updated and changed that it’s not entirely logical to call this the “second-gen” model, but there it is. Plus, some of specs that everyday drivers care about are similar to the current ICE RAV4, too. Rear cargo space, for example, is unchanged at 73 cubic feet behind the front row with the rear seats folded down. The RAV4 EV seats five and there is even that little extra cargo cubby in the floor behind the rear wheels.



If we’re right that this is going to be a popular EV, then Toyota is going to need to revamp its production plans. Right now, the agreement with Tesla is for 2,600 vehicles over three model years. If this were to really take off, Toyota will have to sit down with Telsa and see if it’s possible to build more. And Tesla’s already busy with ramping up Model S production, getting ready for the Model X and more.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV rear 3/4 view


“Will the RAV4 EV help us meet our compliance requirements? Absolutely. Did we create a barebones EV just to earn credits for the mandate? Absolutely not.”

For whatever reason – and it probably has more to do with how much money will be lost on each one sold than anything else – Toyota is being conservative with its sales approach, trying to target the exact same high-earners, green-minded in California that have already been bombarded by ads for the Leaf and Volt. Toyota calls its sales plan “measured and focused.” Sure, the CUV offers more room than either of those vehicles, but why the initial sales markets don’t include CUV-happy green places like Seattle or Portland mystifies us. Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division at Toyota Motor Sales, says Toyota had four goals to fill with the RAV4 EV program. Three are vague, feel-good items: “environmental leadership,” “develop a unique electric vehicle” and to fulfill the Toyota-Tesla partnership. The fourth, though, is telling: to meet Toyota’s California zero-emissions vehicle mandate. He said, “Some people have called the RAV4 EV nothing more than a compliance car… will the RAV4 EV help us meet our compliance requirements? Absolutely. Did we create a barebones EV just to earn credits for the mandate? Absolutely not.”



Unlike when the new RAV4 EV was unveiled in May, Toyota representatives were a bit more open to the idea that 2,600 might be the starting point, not the ending number, and we heard a lot of things like, “We’re still going to find out what the market for EVs is,” and that the initial response is a “positive first step.” It seems wasteful for Toyota and Tesla to spend all this money and engineering effort on just 2,600 electric vehicles, and it will be tremendously interesting to see how the market reacts to the first real all-electric CUV of the 21st Century.

Vital Stats

Engine:
AC Induction Motor
Power:
154 HP / 273 LB-FT
Transmission:
Single-Speed
0-60 Time:
7.0 Sec. (Sport Mode)
Top Speed:
100 MPH (Sport Mode)
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,032 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
37.2 / 73.0 CU-FT
MPG:
100 MPGe (est.)
MSRP:
$49,800 (before credits)

Research the Toyota RAV4 »

By Sebastian Blanco

Toyota and Tesla Trot Out the RAV4 EV

The Toyota RAV4 EV will arrive in California dealerships later this summer.Toyota Motor SalesThe Toyota RAV4 EV will arrive in California dealerships this summer.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.– The RAV4 EV, a battery-powered crossover jointly developed by Toyota and Tesla, made its California debut this week.

The vehicle, aimed at urban markets here, will be offered for sale this summer for $51,000.

Tesla has a $100 million contract to supply the vehicle’s electric motors, power electronics, proprietary lithium-ion battery packs, single-speed gearboxes and software. The components, the companies said, were similar to those in Tesla’s new Model S sedan.

Indeed, the Model S and RAV4 EV will be priced nearly the same. The RAV4 platform, supplied by Toyota from its gasoline-powered version of the RAV4, offers additional utility and cargo capacity.

The EV can operate on normal and sport power settings. Normal allows 218 pound-feet of torque, while sport produces 273.

The top speed in normal mode is 85 m.p.h.; in sport, speed capability is increased to 100 m.p.h. In sport mode, the EV will make the sprint from a standstill to 60 m.p.h. in seven seconds, Toyota calculated.

“Conservative” range on a single charge is 100 miles, although by using settings, designated as eco-high or eco-low, the range could be extended to as much as 170 miles.

By JERRY GARRETT

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV [w/video]

Tesla-Hearted Toyota Offers Real Sport And Utility



2012 RAV4 EV



The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is the most advanced Alpha prototype electric vehicle we’ve ever driven. Or maybe it’s a poster child for the 21st Century automotive industry where all sorts of new things are being tried, like when old-school automakers and ambitious start-ups find common purpose in rushing an all-electric crossover to market in two years. Or maybe it’s the end result of a decade-long process of getting the Japanese automaker to bring back its popular – by EV standards, anyway – first-gen RAV4 EV for the new era of electric cars? It is, of course, all of these things, and that’s what makes the RAV4 EV such an interesting vehicle: It not only offers surprisingly good performance on the road, it can also tell you some compelling stories as you jump from 0-60 in seven seconds. In a CUV. With an easy-to-achieve 100-mile range.



Most compelling, perhaps, is that the RAV4 EV is a real electric crossover with a real on-sale date. Namely, $49,800 (before any tax credits) and late summer 2012. Of course, the problem, aside from the hefty price, is that this CUV will only be available – initially, anyway – in four major California markets: Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles/Orange County. Since the RAV4 EV will go on sale in The OC (don’t call it that), it made sense that Toyota brought journalists to Newport Beach for some time behind the wheel. If you’re not interested in the technical details or the three story lines we saw represented, here’s all you need to know. When we first put the RAV4 EV into Sport driving mode, our honest reaction was to say out loud: “Holy crap!”



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV side view2013 Toyota RAV4 EV front view2013 Toyota RAV4 EV rear view



The second-generation RAV4 EV isn’t really the second-generation at all. Toyota stopped making the original RAV4 EV in 2003 and there hasn’t been much work done (publicly, at least) since then. In fact, it is unlikely that the 2012 version would have come to pass had Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk not announced in May 2010 that they would work together on electric vehicles, with the RAV4 EV being named as the candidate vehicle in July.


“People love SUVs and their current moral dilemma is the need for occasional versatility at the expense of everyday fuel economy.”

As we noted in our Quick Spin of an early RAV4 EV prototype last year, the project is a rush job. We saw the first prototype at the LA Auto Show in November and the first demonstration program vehicles were on the road in February 2011. The frenetic pace doesn’t mean that Toyota was first to bring an EV to the current market, just that the company was very clearly not interested in waiting any longer to offer something without a tailpipe.



It also happens to be an EV unlike anything else on the market. As Greg Bernas, chief engineer in the product development office (PDO) at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC), put it, “For us, the RAV4 was the obvious choice. We knew there was a void in the product offering in the market, and the RAV4, we felt, fit that void perfectly. Also, people love SUVs and their current moral dilemma is the need for occasional versatility at the expense of everyday fuel economy. Not so with the RAV4 EV.”



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV badge2013 Toyota RAV4 EV badge2013 Toyota RAV4 EV badge



Since the summer of 2010, then, Toyota and Tesla engineers have worked to adapt the Silicon Valley powertrain into a RAV4 V6. After deciding that Toyota would be in charge – originally, each thought the other would lead the development – the engineers started with a current-gen internal combustion-powered RAV4 and got to work. Snagging the long-in-the-tooth model means that, when the new version of that vehicles arrives, (possibly later this year), the electric version will retain the older styling. Right now, the EV has new exterior features that identify it as having rejected the gas-burning engine – things like a markedly different front fascia and grille, unique mirrors, light fixtures, a rear spoiler, as well as EV badging all around.


The aero tweaks give the RAV4 EV a cD of .30, which Toyota points out is more like a sedan than your average CUV.

All of the exterior’s zero-emission chrome doesn’t hide the fact that this is still a RAV4, it’s just that this is a significantly more aerodynamic RAV4. Those mirrors, for example, are styled after the Camry that’s sold in Korea and reduce the coefficient of drag by 1.1 percent. The rear spoiler? A 2.5-percent improvement. The smoother underbody, which is possible thanks to there being a battery there instead of a lot of mufflers and whatnot? An 8.2-percent improvement. All together, the aero tweaks give the RAV4 EV a cD of .30, which Toyota points out is more like a sedan than your average CUV. When asked why these sorts of little improvements were not added to the gas-burning RAV4, Toyota’s Sheldon Brown, the executive program manager in the TTC’s PDO department, said that it’s not so simple. The underbody panels, for example, didn’t need to be designed to deal with a hot exhaust pipe and so you can’t just use the same plastic and shape on the ICE RAV4. The mirrors and rear spoilers, though? Those seem easy enough to use no matter what the powertrain, so we’ll keep our eyes open when the new model appears.



But the lesson here is clear: Make the vehicle as slippery as you can and the range will thank you for it. When Toyota unwrapped the RAV4 EV, it was proudly “powered by Tesla,” and based on all of the discussions we had with Toyota representatives about the 100-mile-plus range of the RAV4 EV – thanks in large part to Tesla’s 41.8-kWh battery – Toyota is still proud of the benefits it received out of the deal.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV headlight2013 Toyota RAV4 EV wheel2013 Toyota RAV4 EV charging port2013 Toyota RAV4 EV taillight


The RAV4 EV uses the same AC induction motor as the Model S with a different gear set.

Does Tesla or Toyota come out the winner from this partnership? It’s unclear. Sure, there’s a case to be made that they are both winners, but if we had to guess, it kind of feels like Tesla might be getting the better deal. Toyota, which is also working on other cars with plugs – namely the all-electric Scion iQ EV (coming soon) and the Prius Plug-in (now available) – has learned about a different way to integrate a battery and how to develop an electric powertrain for a large vehicle. The RAV4 EV weighs 4,032 pounds, after all, compared to the ICE RAV4′s range of 3,360 to 3,699 pounds, depending on trim level and engine, and weight kills efficiency. The aero tweaks, powertrain enhancements and low-rolling resistance P225/65R17 all-season tires all work together here to make up that difference.



Tesla, too, learned something about making an electric CUV – the RAV4 EV uses the same AC induction motor as the Model S with a different gear set, for example, and the two companies jointly filed patents on the battery structure design to make the pack fit into the ICE platform – but when you look at the overall picture for the two firms, Tesla has more to gain. The company is currently developing the Model X CUV, which shares the Tesla Vehicle Platform with the Model S, and this is why we can look at the RAV4 EV as a sort of stealth test bed for the Model X, that we can see the RAV4 EV as a weird alpha prototype. The official line is that this is not the case. Christina Ra, Tesla’s senior manager of communications, told us that since the Model X is, like the Model S, built from the ground up to truly leverage the EV powertrain, “It’s safe to say that the experiences of developing Model S and RAV4 EV were very different – and both very successful – for Tesla. Model X development will follow suit more closely to Tesla’s experiences with Model S.”


Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV



But the evolution of the Model X is a story for another time. Today, the focus is on the RAV4 EV, and what it’s like behind the wheel. As we said, “Holy crap.”


Click over to Sport mode, where the dash turns red and the top speed climbs to an impressive and illegal 100 mph, and you won’t notice the noise.

Those were the words of my driving companion for the day, Autoblog writer Michael Harley (who is more used to testing 500-horsepower gas-guzzling supercars than electric CUVs) uttered the first time he engaged Sport mode and accelerated. His words don’t mean the RAV4 EV – with a motor that has a maximum output of about 115 kW, or around 154 horsepower – was as quick as a supercar, but the 0-30 miles per hour performance certainly exceeded the expectations of a veteran road tester not used to the instant torque of an electric vehicle.



That is, at least in Sport mode, with its 273 pound-feet. In Normal mode where the 0-60 time drops to 8.6 seconds, max torque falls to 218 lb-ft and top speed is 85 mph, people would likely assume it was just a surprisingly powerful ICE CUV if you didn’t tell them the car was electric. A quiet one, with just a hint of road noise in the rear, but nothing that’s overly bothersome or that can’t be overcome by turning up the radio. Click over to Sport mode, where the dash turns red and the top speed climbs to an impressive and illegal 100 mph, and you won’t notice the noise. Shift from D to B for extra braking power – which brings back the enthusiastic regen of the prototype – and it might just be the most fun you can have using just one foot, outside of a Tesla-branded vehicle, of course. The front-wheel drive RAV4 EV uses blended braking, with regenerative brakes to capture energy and hydraulic brakes that kick in when the force required to stop the CUV exceeds the ability of the regen brakes. When in D, this is all transparent and feels like an ICE vehicle.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV engine



The truth is, the RAV4 EV can almost be too fast. We managed to keep it roughly at the speed limit – mostly because we were boxed in by southern California traffic on the highway – but we heard multiple reports from other drivers who were shocked to realize they were going over 90 mph. The quiet smoothness of the RAV4 EV easily hides this. This is why we’re pretty sure that Toyota would sell more of these if it lets people test the Sport mode out for themselves. Well, it would if the beancounters had any faith in this EV (they don’t), but we’ll get into that below.


If you’re prone to range anxiety, then “max range” is your comfort number.

From the test drive position, the RAV4 EV steals from the Prius (the shifter is lifted from the third-gen hybrid model) and like many modern vehicles that have gone on a knob-diet, it has lost tactile input devices in favor of a touchscreen (for navigation, music and apps) and capacitative touch switchgear (HVAC controls). As much as we like what these screens show us, we still feel that physical buttons beat touchscreens any day of the week, any hour of the day. Also, the smudge-loving glossy panels to either side of the screen need to go. Even with these complaints, the new center stack does wonders to update the look of the inside of the RAV4; the ICE model’s interior has been around since 2005, a painfully long time in such a hot segment.



Toyota has done something interesting with the “miles to empty” display, and that is to give you two numbers. The first, the one you’ll use most of the time, is how many miles you’ll be able to go if you keep up your current driving style and HVAC settings. The second, the one you’ll never use until you really, really need it, is the “max range.” That is, if you turned off the A/C or heater and drove like there’s an egg under the acceleration pedal, how far could you go? If you’re prone to range anxiety, then this is your comfort number.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV interior2013 Toyota RAV4 EV front seats2013 Toyota RAV4 EV gauges2013 Toyota RAV4 EV gear selector



These two numbers give rise to two differently shaded circles on the navigation map screen when you ask the vehicle how far you’ll be able to drive. After you select between one-way and round trip, the screen shows you a rough estimate of just how far away you could end up from where you currently sit. If your destination is in that target area, especially in the lighter, inner circle, start driving and don’t worry about range, emissions or finding time to gas up.


Official EPA estimates are not out yet, but the RAV4 EV appears to be a true 100-mile electric vehicle.

It can be kind of fun to play with this map and the HVAC settings to see how much your range changes based on how quickly you want to get hot or cold. There are four HVAC modes: Normal, Eco Lo, Eco Hi and off. Off gives you max range and Normal the least. The two Eco modes split the middle, and we were perfectly comfortable with Eco Hi (the more efficient of the two) during our drive.



So, how much range is in the battery? We started our drive with a full battery and the max range read 155 miles. We then proceeded to run around The OC (don’t call it that) on a day with temperatures in the high 70s with the air conditioner on Eco Hi and spent most of the time in Sport mode – why wouldn’t we? – and, after 40.5 miles in the city, highway and going up and down hills, our max range was still 92 miles. The EcoCoach said we scored a poor 68 out of 100, and our “keep driving like this” range estimate was just under 70 miles. Official EPA estimates are not out yet, but based on our limited testing, the RAV4 EV appears to be a true 100-mile electric vehicle.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV climate controls


Toyota will warranty the battery for eight years, 100,000 miles.

It can be, at least. On top of the driving modes and the HVAC modes, Toyota also offers two charging modes, standard and extended. Toyota has partnered with Leviton to offer a 40-amp home charging station (lower amperage versions are also available) for $1,590 installed, but the RAV4 EV does not have a DC fast charging option. Standard charging, which is what Toyota recommends people use most of the time and only charges the pack to 35 kWh full, should get a 92 mile-range estimate from the EPA. This will take as little as five hours when using a 40-amp, 240-volt system. Extended uses the whole 41.8 kWh and would get 113 miles from the EPA, taking six hours to fully charge. Lower output charging stations will obviously extend this time, and with a regular 120-volt home outlet, it would take over 44 hours to fill an empty battery. As for the RAV4 EV’s final EPA range number, it will be a blend of these two modes. No matter which mode you charge in, Toyota will warranty the battery for eight years, 100,000 miles. Both the standard and extended mode use the 10 kW on-board charger.



Aside from the expected smartphone apps, the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf both have a little charging indicator light on the dashboard, visible from outside the car. On the RAV4 EV, this light is located in the tinted window above the charging post, which itself is above the passenger side rear wheel. Toyota uses two lights to indicate what the status is:



a. Left light blinking: charging is zero to 50 percent complete

b. Left light on, right side blinking: charging is 50 to 99 percent complete

c. Both lights on: charge complete

d. Both lights blinking: charging malfunction



Did we mention there’s a smartphone app?







Which brings us to the big picture. A decade ago, Toyota was selling a RAV4 EV that was based on the gas-powered RAV4, got around 100 to 120 miles of range and had a top speed of 78 mph. 450 of those vehicles are still around. We’ve been in them. Owners love them and have been asking the company for years to offer them again, even though the old RAV4 EVs still work great. Around 2,000 hand raisers have already said they’d like to know more about the 2012 RAV4 EV.


Rear cargo space is unchanged at 73 cubic feet behind the front row with the rear seats folded down.

Today, Toyota is getting ready to sell an electric CUV with almost the exact same specs as the one from 2002. Sure, so much has been updated and changed that it’s not entirely logical to call this the “second-gen” model, but there it is. Plus, some of specs that everyday drivers care about are similar to the current ICE RAV4, too. Rear cargo space, for example, is unchanged at 73 cubic feet behind the front row with the rear seats folded down. The RAV4 EV seats five and there is even that little extra cargo cubby in the floor behind the rear wheels.



If we’re right that this is going to be a popular EV, then Toyota is going to need to revamp its production plans. Right now, the agreement with Tesla is for 2,600 vehicles over three model years. If this were to really take off, Toyota will have to sit down with Telsa and see if it’s possible to build more. And Tesla’s already busy with ramping up Model S production, getting ready for the Model X and more.



2013 Toyota RAV4 EV rear 3/4 view


“Will the RAV4 EV help us meet our compliance requirements? Absolutely. Did we create a barebones EV just to earn credits for the mandate? Absolutely not.”

For whatever reason – and it probably has more to do with how much money will be lost on each one sold than anything else – Toyota is being conservative with its sales approach, trying to target the exact same high-earners, green-minded in California that have already been bombarded by ads for the Leaf and Volt. Toyota calls its sales plan “measured and focused.” Sure, the CUV offers more room than either of those vehicles, but why the initial sales markets don’t include CUV-happy green places like Seattle or Portland mystifies us. Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division at Toyota Motor Sales, says Toyota had four goals to fill with the RAV4 EV program. Three are vague, feel-good items: “environmental leadership,” “develop a unique electric vehicle” and to fulfill the Toyota-Tesla partnership. The fourth, though, is telling: to meet Toyota’s California zero-emissions vehicle mandate. He said, “Some people have called the RAV4 EV nothing more than a compliance car… will the RAV4 EV help us meet our compliance requirements? Absolutely. Did we create a barebones EV just to earn credits for the mandate? Absolutely not.”



Unlike when the new RAV4 EV was unveiled in May, Toyota representatives were a bit more open to the idea that 2,600 might be the starting point, not the ending number, and we heard a lot of things like, “We’re still going to find out what the market for EVs is,” and that the initial response is a “positive first step.” It seems wasteful for Toyota and Tesla to spend all this money and engineering effort on just 2,600 electric vehicles, and it will be tremendously interesting to see how the market reacts to the first real all-electric CUV of the 21st Century.

By Sebastian Blanco