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Tesla and Toyota Announce Electric RAV4 for 2012

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On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Tesla and Toyota Announce Electric RAV4 for 2012

In May, Tesla and Toyota announced a partnership toward the production of electric vehicles. As part of the deal, Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla, and Tesla took the reins of Toyota's former NUMMI plant in California. Rumors have indicated that the first fruits of their labor would be an electric version of Toyota's RAV4, and today the companies announced that a deal has been signed toward that end. Tesla has provided Toyota with a prototype and the companies are currently in the process of testing and improving the design.

The electrified RAV4 will be built on the traditional RAV4 platform, but fitted with a Tesla electric drivetrain. Tesla uses a 3-phase AC induction motor and 56 kWh in its Roadster. The motor puts out 288 hp and 295 lb-ft, which is enough to drive the Lotus-based Roadster to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The companies did not announce specifics of the electric RAV4's drivetrain, but Tesla is currently working on delivering a prototype fleet to Toyota for advanced evaluation and testing.

The electric RAV4 is tentatively scheduled for a 2012 production schedule in the United States.Tesla representatives indicated that the RAV4s may join the Model S sedan for production at the NUMMI plant. The companies are investigating other possible markets for sale around the world.

The RAV4 was said to be an obvious choice due to its size and flexibility. The model was actually made an electric vehicle by Toyota itself more than a decade ago. The RAV4 EV was sold between 1997 to 2003, and close to 1,500 models made it to U.S. roadways. More than half of them are still in service, including ones owned by notable celebrities like Tom Hanks. The original electric RAV4 featured a 27 kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery pack that delivered a range of 100 miles per charge and top speed around 78 mph. Sales of the vehicle were disappointing at the time, but Toyota was able to funnel some of the technology into future vehicles like the Prius.

Indications from Tesla, as recently as last month, indicate that the company is planning to expand its own line over the next several years. Future models that include a crossover, minivan, and convertible will be based on the Model S platform, and the partnership with Toyota should give the company the opportunity to fine-tune a powertrain that can easily be transferred to its own crossover model. Tesla is expected to start begin debuting these vehicles in 2013. Each new model is expected to get a significant drop in price, moving Tesla toward the mass-market category. Tesla's first car—the Roadster—carries a retail price of $109,000 while the Model S sedan is expected to price in around $50,000.

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RoadKill | 2:21PM (Tue, Jul 20, 2010)

Sales of the original RAV4 EV were disappointing? Your telling me that full page ad they ran in Car Nerds Monthly and that billboard in Bridgeport California wasn't enough to sell them?

If they would have put as much effort into the marketing for the EV vehicles and maybe had some available in showrooms outside of California, maybe they would have sold some...but that wasn't the goal now was it.


imwithcoco | 11:00AM (Wed, Jul 21, 2010)

Very true! I think this generation will do much better since the EV/Green thing is in style now and the current RAV4 is much better looking than the original.

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