Toyota’s new RAV4 EV, which was revealed today at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, represents several milestones for the auto industry. It’s Toyota’s first all-electric vehicle, and the only electric SUV on the market so far. It’s also the only EV model ever to rise from the dead – the original RAV4 EV was available from 1997 to 2003, and several hundred are still on the road.
For those of us who are impatiently waiting to get behind the wheel of an EV, and say good riddance to gas pumps and petro-dictators, the most important accomplishment of all is how quickly a modern, global auto industry brought the new vehicle to production. Toyota and Tesla Motors announced their intention to jointly develop the RAV4 EV in July 2010. Tesla contributed the battery and electric powertrain, as well as its “daring spirit, quick decision making and flexibility.” Most industry observers consider five years to be a typical development cycle for a new car – the two Ts brought this off in less than half that time.
Toyota expects the RAV4 EV to have a range of 100 miles, and claims that its driving performance and cargo capacity are equal to or exceed those of the legacy RAV4 V6. It will go on sale in four California markets in late summer, at a MSRP of $49,800.
“It’s all about blending the best of two worlds,” said Toyota VP Bob Carter. “We believe that the RAV4 EV will attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius. It’s designed for consumers who prioritize the environment and appreciate performance. We look forward to seeing how the market responds.”