At the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota unveiled an electric version of its RAV4 SUV as a concept, the result of a partnership with Tesla. Toyota rolled out the production version, again in Los Angeles, this week at the EVS26 electric car show. The RAV4 EV goes on sale in California later this year.
Although using the chassis and body of the standard RAV4, Toyota made a few cosmetic changes to the exterior. These help identify the car as an electric vehicle and improve its aerodynamic capabilities. The grille was largely closed off, as the electric drive system does not need as much airflow as a gas engine. The underside of the car was also smoothed to help air flow more easily around the car.
The power-control electronics are the most visible components under the hood. Underneath these sits a 115-kilowatt electric motor that drives the front wheels.
To reduce peripheral electricity usage, the RAV4 EV uses LED low-beam headlights, while the high-beams are halogens. Toyota most likely split the lamp types to keep costs down. A full LED headlight array would cost more. The high-beam halogens use more electricity, but they will see much less use.
The battery pack, built by Tesla, sits low and in the center of the car, bringing the center of gravity lower than in the standard RAV4. The battery pack gives the car a range of 100 miles, according to Toyota. EPA numbers have not been supplied.
As with other modern electric cars, the RAV4 EV uses a J1772 charge plug. Toyota gave Leviton the nod as the supplier of approved vehicle chargers. Plugged into a 240-volt outlet, the RAV4 EV charges from empty to full in 6 hours.
The electric drive components do not impinge on the interior space at all. With rear seats that fold down, the RAV4 EV maintains the same cargo capacity as the gasoline-powered RAV4.
A storage area under the cargo floor holds a 110-volt charging cable. Toyota does not say how long the batteries would take to charge with this cable, but given the charging time on a 240-volt outlet, it would probably be from 12 to 18 hours.
The dashboard holds an 8-inch touch screen for navigation and infotainment, including a telematics system. The screen shows information about the electric drive system. Toyota's new Entune app integration comes standard with the RAV4 EV.
Toyota borrowed the shifter from the Prius for the RAV4 EV. Not connected to any sort of transmission, this shift lever merely works as a drive selector. The electric parking brake button is visible behind the shift lever.
The all-digital instrument cluster shows blue when the RAV4 EV is in standard drive mode. In this mode, the car takes 8.6 seconds to get to 60 mph, and has a top speed of 85 mph.
When the driver puts the RAV4 EV in sport mode, the instrument cluster turns red. Sport mode reduces the 0-to-60 mph time to 7 seconds, and it raises the speed governor to 100 mph.