Toyota RAV4 EV concept
Toyota RAV4 EV concept. Click image to enlarge

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Toyota RAV4 EV concept

Los Angeles, California – Toyota debuted today the second-generation Toyota RAV4 EV at a news conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show.  A total of 35 vehicles will be built for a demonstration and evaluation program through 2011, aiming at market arrival of a fully-engineered vehicle in 2012.  The fully-engineered vehicle will have a target range of 100 miles (160 kilometres) in actual road driving patterns, in a wide range of climates and conditions. 

“When we decided to work together on the RAV4 EV, President Akio Toyoda wanted to adopt a new development model that incorporated Tesla’s streamlined, quick-action approach,” said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer, TMS. ”

Led by the Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America (TEMA) Technical Center in Michigan, the team began with a fully engineered current-generation RAV4, to which was added a major powertrain option, along with refreshed feature and cosmetic changes.

Tesla was responsible for building and supplying the battery, as well as other related parts, that met specific Toyota engineering specifications in performance, quality and durability.  Toyota was responsible for development and manufacturing leadership and the seamless integration of the powertrain.

A large part of the team’s focus on the customer experience targeted driveability.  In this case, the end goal is a vehicle with driveability characteristics as close to the conventional RAV4 as possible. 

For example, the demonstration vehicle weighs approximately 100 kg more than the current RAV4 V6 yet it will accelerate nearly as quickly.

The demonstration vehicle Toyota is currently testing is powered by a lithium metal oxide battery with useable output rated in the mid-30 kwh range. However, many decisions regarding both the product, as well as the business model, have not been finalized. Battery size and final output ratings, as well as pricing and volume projections of the vehicle Toyota plans to bring to market in 2012, have not been decided.

As for a final assembly location, Toyota is considering many options and combinations.  The basic vehicle will continue to be built at its Canadian production facility, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc., in Woodstock, Ontario.  Tesla will build the battery and many powertrain components at its new facility in Palo Alto, Calif.  The method and installation location of the Tesla components into the vehicle is being discussed. 

In 1997, Toyota brought to market the first-generation RAV4 EV in response to the California zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate and was the first manufacturer to meet the mandate’s Memo of Agreement on volume sales.  Powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the vehicle had a range of between 80-110 miles (128 – 177 kilometres) on a single charge.  From model year 1998 to model year 2003, only 1,484 vehicles were sold or leased in the U.S.  746 first-generation RAV4 EVs are still on the road.

“Price and convenience proved to be critical success factors and they remain so today,” said Lentz.  “But much has changed in the last few years.  Most importantly, the growing level of awareness that sustainable mobility will come at a cost that must be shared by the automakers, government and the consumer.”

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