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Toyota and Tesla Unveil The RAV 4 EV At L.A. Auto Show

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On: Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 3:45PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota and Tesla Unveil The RAV 4 EV At L.A. Auto Show

In May of 2010, Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor Co. announced a $60 million project to partner up and revive Toyota’s electric vehicle project using Tesla’s battery and power electronics technology. Last week the two companies unveiled the new RAV-4 EV concept vehicle, touting its 100 mile driving range.

You may remember the original RAV-4 EV from 1997, which failed to move into the mainstream market. According to the Japanese automaker, there was not enough demand for electric vehicles back then. Now Toyota is hoping that with Tesla providing its renowned battery technology, and with the EV market growing, there will be more interest.

Toyota reports the production phase of the new RAV-4 EV is currently at Phase 0, which is basically the RAV-4 body with Tesla Roadster powertrain and battery under the hood. Phase 1 and 2 of the small SUV will result in an upgrade in design and a unique EV.

Tesla, the Silicon Valley-based company, designs, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles (EVs) and electric vehicle powertrain components. It is currently the only automaker building and selling highway-capable EVs in mass production in North America. Tesla produces at least 15 custom ordered vehicles per week.

After the launch of the RAV-4 EV at the L. A. Auto Show, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales' CEO shared a few new details about the vehicle as well as the partnership.

Musk said he was confident that lithium-ion battery costs would come down to $300 per kilowatt hour by 2013. "I'm not predicting that," he said. "It's difficult but achievable."

Tesla has two high-profile deals with large original equipment manufacturers; Toyota and Daimler. Musk said Tesla has turned down "many" deals with other automakers. "The reason we would turn down something," he said, "is because we didn't think the ultimate product would be really compelling."

Tesla and Toyota are also planning the production of 35 electric vehicles that can drive up to 100 miles on a single charge.

The RAV4 EV concept vehicle has a mid-30KWh range lithium metal oxide battery which makes the EV weigh about 220 pounds more than the V6 combustion engine model. Toyota says that even with the extra weight the concept model can accelerate almost as quickly.

No details have been released including the production volume or price, but Toyota and Tesla hope to have the RAV-4 EV to market by2012.


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