The Toyota RAV4 hasn't had an electric vehicle version since the last model went out of production in 2003, but that soon will change. After months (or years, rather) of teasing, Toyota’s finally unwrapping the : Toyota released the new RAV4 EV production version, which promises a 100-mile range, a six-hour charge time, and a price tag just under $50,000.
As we reported in late 2010, when the first prototypes were unveiled, the reincarnated RAV4 EV is a joint project of Toyota Motor Corporation and Tesla Motors, the purveyors of the electric Roadster sports car and the forthcoming Model S sedan. Tesla designed and produced the battery pack and electric powertrain, which produces a maximum of 154 horsepower, which is sent to the front wheels.
Like many other electric or range-extended electric vehicles on the market or in the pipeline today, the RAV4's performance is determined by which driving mode it's placed in. In normal mode, the RAV4 EV can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 85 mph. Interestingly, the RAV4 EV will also have a sport mode, in which the CUV will hit 60 in 7 seconds flat and go on to a top speed of 100 mph. To reinforce that sport mode will reduce the car's range (and increase its performance), the gauge cluster backlight will change from the standard blue hue to an ominous red once placed in sport mode.
When the lithium-ion batteries get low, drivers can charge the car with either a 120V (Level 1) or 240V (Level 2) charging cord. Toyota estimates that the RAV4 EV will reach a full charge in six hours, which is good for about 100 miles of driving. The battery pack will be warranted for eight years of 100,000 miles.
Throughout the car, Toyota has made other changes to the stock RAV4 to reflect a higher price tag and to optimize its efficiency. The RAV4 EV has a special aerodynamic kit that reduces its coefficient of drag to 0.30, and the headlights are a LED daytime running light/low-beam LED/high-beam halogen setup. Inside, the front seats are heated and upholstered in a new Neutron fabric, while the dashboard features an eight-inch touch screen interface with Toyota’s Entune infotainment suite.
The 2012 RAV4 EV will go on sale late this summer in California (Toyota will initially sell the cars only in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego) before it is rolled out in other markets across the U.S. The company expects to sell 2600 units over the span of three years at roughly $49,800 each.
Toyota is keen to point out that the RAV4 EV is the only electric sport-utility vehicle on the market, which is mostly true. But in an ironic twist, the next all-electric SUV coming down the pipeline is the Model X, the vertical-door SUV concept created by…Tesla.