The TAV4 EV is an electric version of the famous Toyota RAV4 SUV and produced between 1997 and 2003. The vehicle was mainly leased in the beginning, but many units were marketed once its production was ceased by the company. In order to meet the Californian state’s mandate for Zero-Emission vehicle, around 1485 units of RAV4 EV were offered for sale or leased. By the end of 2010, there are over 750 units still being used. In the mid of 2010, Toyota released a statement saying that it is going to manufacture the second generation RAV4 in collaboration with Tesla Motors. The new generation model will be available for sale by 2012.
The first generation RAV4 EV was introduced in 1997. The vehicle was offered for lease to businesses, enterprises, cities or utilities in 2001, while its 238 units were offered for sale to general public by the start of 2003.
The RAV4 EV was in close resemblance to the regular internal combustion engine (ICE) version, i.e. missing tailpipe. The vehicle had a top speed of 78 mph (126 km/h) ranging from 100 to 120 miles (160 to 190 km). It was equipped with 95 amp-hour NiMH battery pack with a capacity of 27 kWh, inductively charged and remarkably durable. Surprisingly, some models attained more than 150,000 miles (240,000 km) on the original battery pack. The RAV4 EV was also ranked among few vehicles with a single speed automatic transmission at that time.
Expect for the batteries, controller and motor, all the rest featured in the RAV4 EV are similar to the gas-powered RAV4 like power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, tire wear and suspension components. However, power sources were prominent in electric version. For instance, the passenger cabin was electrically heated, power brakes utilized the electric pump to provide vacuum rather than deriving vacuum from the engine manifold, and the power steering and air conditioning systems utilized electric motors than mechanical energy obtained by fan belts.
Toyota Motor Corporation and Tesla Motors have been working collaboratively since May 2010 to design and develop a second generation RAV4 EV. This vehicle will use Tesla’s electric motor and batteries and Toyota’s platform and body. Tesla and Toyota Technical Center USA in Michigan is involved in developing this vehicle. It took just three weeks to build the first prototype. Both the companies are hoping that the vehicle will go in production somewhere in 20112.
The concept version of the second generation RAV4 EV was revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2010. For demonstration and evaluation program, Toyota is aiming to build 35 such demonstrators. For the program, the Tesla Motors supplied all the powertrain components and lithium metal-oxide battery. It is announced that the second generation RAV4 EV will come with SAE J1772 charging standards.
In the 2011 Green Car Vision Award, the RAV4 EV qualified as one of the five finalists.