Toyota to unveil specs of game changing electric SUV, the RAV4 EV
Two years ago Toyota and Tesla excited the electric vehicle scene by announcing a partnership which saw Toyota joining Daimler in investing in Tesla, Toyota selling a disused factory to Tesla (the former NUMMI plant in Fremont), and agreed to work with Tesla on resurrecting the Toyota RAV4 EV. Today Toyota announced that the new RAV4 EV would be unveiled at the EVS26 conference next week, putting the company on track to fulfill its promise of shipping the electric SUV in July 2012. EVS26 is the big kahuna electric vehicle symposium featuring speakers and participants from all over the world.
The Toyota RAV4 EV is an all-electric version of Toyota's popular RAV4 SUV. Instead of a gasoline powered drive train, it sports an electric drive train built on parts supplied by Tesla Motors.
The RAV4 EV has a long history in the electric vehicle scene. In the 1990's and early 2000's, during the period when California's ZEV Mandate had teeth, the first RAV4 EV was Toyota's answer to that mandate. It was essentially a conversion vehicle, a thousand or so of which were built by Toyota engineers. For its time it had some amazing characteristics. This included a Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery pack (NiMH), highly advanced for its time, allowing that electric SUV to have well over 100 miles of driving range, and it played a bit part in the movie, Who Killed The Electric Car. While Toyota did move to retrieve and crush those RAV4 EV's when the ZEV Mandate was gutted, the DontCrush campaign successfully rescued hundreds of the cars, most of which are still on the road today.
Unfortunately we won't know the specifications of the new RAV4 EV until next week, but a few bits of information are known.
When announced two years ago, Tesla had built one prototype RAV4 EV and promised to build several more. In the time since, Toyota has paid Tesla $100 million to supply the RAV4 EV's electric drive train including battery, motor, gearbox and controller.
The original announcement came on the heels of Tesla's purchase of the former NUMMI plant from Toyota. At the time it seemed plausible that the RAV4 EV would have final assembly done by Tesla in that plant, using car bodies provided by Toyota. Instead the RAV4 EV is being manufactured by Toyota in Windsor Ontario, at the same factory that builds the gas powered versions.