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Toyota Introduces Electric RAV4, Powered By Tesla Motor 243

thecarchik writes "As they say, everything old is new again. Fourteen years after it launched its very first RAV4 crossover at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota returned to LA to launch an all-electric version of its latest RAV4. And this one is, as the logos in a teaser photo released earlier said, 'powered by Tesla.' The launch of the second version of the RAV4 EV is on a fast timeline, led by a working group made up of Toyota's Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a team from Tesla Motors. The partnership will build 35 'Phase Zero' test versions of the latest RAV4 EV next year, with production launch expected in 2012."
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Toyota Introduces Electric RAV4, Powered By Tesla Motor

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  • It has to be Tesla (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:03PM (#34272848)

    Why do I get a feeling this submission only made it because it mentions Tesla?

    • by spun ( 1352 )

      Why do I get a feeling this submission only made it because it mentions Tesla?

      Because you haven't considered the possibility that Toyota might invent a mascot know as 'thecarchick' (oooh! A GIRL who like cars!) and use that mascot to submit stories to news aggregation sites for free publicity? I mean, if you're going to go down the rabbit hole, go all the way down.

      • Pretty much. I'm assuming Tesla is the vague link used in order to promote this Slashvertisement.

      • by hey ( 83763 )

        She has been around here for a while. []

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          When I think, been around here for a while, I don't think of 1520545. I'd say you've been around for awhile, since over half a million separate us, but I don't know about those in the million, million and a half range.

          Now if you'll excuse me, there's someone on a lawn that needs yelling at!
    • I have to wonder if "Edison" was used instead of "Tesla"... would these cars be fighting legal battles over the name?

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      You would be correct. Honda announced a new plug-in hybrid fit (can go 70 miles on one charge or run off a hybrid system, just like the volt) but I haven't seen it here.

      Of course Cmdr. Taco is from Ann Arbor, maybe he's plugging his home town.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )
      So you're saying that this reply of mine will get modded up merely because it mentions Tesla?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 )
        Remember that correlation does not equal causation. Mentioning Tesla in your post may or may not be the reason you were modded up.

        This post may cause a recursion error.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:10PM (#34272952)
    During the zero emission days in California there where some electric RAV4 vehicles around. But of course, you couldn't buy them, only lease. And as soon as GM got the law repealed they where yanked back and destroyed. One person here in Marin refused to return his however. Still see it around from time to time.
    • by karnal ( 22275 )

      GM had the EV-1, not the RAV4. Toyota = RAV4.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kenja ( 541830 )
        But it was GM that pushed to have the zero emission laws over turned, not Toyota.
        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          because they cost to build was excessive. All it would have done is create a strong used car market.

          a decade latter, and manufacturing them is getting cheaper, and people are more aware of the volatility of the price of oil.

          GM doesn't car which people want to buy, only that there is enough money to be made to make a profit.

          • by Kenja ( 541830 )
            Right. Which is why they did everything they could to kill off the EVs and started building the H2. Doesn't mean it was a good thing, and frankly they could have charged an arm and a leg for the EV and people would have bought them.

            Its like the adds running on TV right now for the GE Watt Station EV charging platforms. We had something very simular to those at major transit hubs to charge the last round of EVs. None of this stuff is new, but it is better and hopefully will "make it" this time.
          • It's still too damn expensive, though. Look at the Chevy volt. I love the concept, I think it's a neat-looking car, but there's no way I'm spending $40,000+ on a mediocre 4-seat compact. While current EV's are a hell of a lot better than the EV1, they're still not where they need to be for mass-adoption. Now, give it a decade or so, and the situation might be dramatically different. I'll let the early-adopters have a go at them, let my current vehicle drag me around until it falls apart, and hopefully

          • That's not really true. GM does care. They care because electric vehicles have fewer moving parts that wear out and require replacing. GM has been accused [] of sabotaging the EV1 for that very reason. US auto manufacturers didn't get a reputation for building pieces of crap for no reason. The dealer service as well as the parts industry were where the US car companies made their money. It hasn't been until more recent times--after Japan started becoming a very serious threat to the US market in spite si
        • All the car companies pushed to have those laws overturned. They simply weren't ready to sell a non-trivial number of EVs and most customers weren't interested in buying them or even leasing them at a loss leader price.

          And more than one RAV4 escaped, there is a guy here at work (South Bay) who owns one, I see it from time to time.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:04PM (#34273652)

      And as soon as GM got the law repealed...

      GM didn't get the law repealed. They were the ones in the best position to benefit from the law. GM caught a lot of flak for how it behaved after the law was repealed (destroying all EV1s), but they weren't the root cause despite what popular documentaries say.

      In 1990, California passed a law mandating that by a certain year (2000 I think), all manufacturers who wished to sell gasoline-powered cars in California also had to offer at least one ZEV (zero emissions vehicle). The only technology which fit the bill was electric. Most automakers complained, but GM went out and actually built the thing.

      As the deadline approached, the other auto manufacturers started to panic. They lobbied California asking for the deadline to be delayed. It was for a few years. Then they successfully lobbied California to drop the ZEV requirement, arguing that hybrid vehicles (powered by gas but with batteries to sustain them at idle and to enable regenerative braking) would provide sufficiently improved fuel efficiency at a low enough price point to be widely adopted. (Contrary to today, environmentalists originally hated hybrids - they derived all their energy from gasoline, none from the wall socket. So they weren't seen as really addressing the oil consumption problem.)

      GM, which stood to make $billions licensing their technology from the EV1 to other auto manufacturers so they could comply with California law, basically had the rug pulled out from under them. They'd sunk $billions in R&D into the EV1 to comply with California's law, then they got screwed over when California basically said "never mind", and dropped the law without giving GM a chance to recoup their sunk costs. GM then essentially went on a temper tantrum, recalling and destroying all EV1s. Not altogether unjustified either - if California wants to encourage new technologies by drafting legal requirements, then pulls a double-cross by dropping the requirements before companies can recoup the money spent creating those new technologies, why should the companies be obligated to let California benefit from said technologies?

      All the conspiracy theories about GM blocking the electric vehicle hinge on one assumption - that an electric vehicle is cost-competitive with gasoline vehicles right now. As Tesla Motors is finding out, they are not. They need the government incentives (or $5+ gas prices) to be cost-competitive. If the government requires the vehicles and promises those incentives, then changes its mind, lots of business decisions based on those requirements and promises get nullified and a whole bunch of people trying to do exactly what the government told them to do lose a whole lot of money. That is not the way to spur free-market innovation, and trying to blame it on the companies afterwards is a great way you seed mistrust of the government.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Kenja ( 541830 )
        Sorry, I remember distinctly all the full page ads and campaigning GM did to get the law removed. They hated the EV cars with a passion. The reasons why are unknown, but there are a lot of valid theories. However no one who lived through it can come to any conclusion other then GM did everything they could to get the zero emission laws removed. And as soon as they no longer had to have EV cars, they pulled them, despite people screaming for the chance to buy them.
      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:47PM (#34274362) Homepage

        A lot of this is perspective...

        GM caught a lot of flak for how it behaved after the law was repealed (destroying all EV1s), but they weren't the root cause despite what popular documentaries say.

        GM did a lot of other things to make the EV1 look bad. They probably had some valid reasons - the car was expensive to build, and battery technology was not where it is today, although it isn't that far different.

        In the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? [] they interview a man who was a higher-up assigned to the EV1 project. Throughout the documentary, he points out ways that GM intentionally thwarted the project while assigning him to make it look like they were trying to promote the car but failing. I can't remember his name though.

        ...arguing that hybrid vehicles (powered by gas but with batteries to sustain them at idle and to enable regenerative braking)

        They really argued for hydrogen-powered cars, which they knew then, and know now, are not going to happen any time soon. IMHO, their main goal was not to get time to innovate.

        All the conspiracy theories about GM blocking the electric vehicle hinge on one assumption - that an electric vehicle is cost-competitive with gasoline vehicles right now.

        True, but I think the comparison would be a lot more fair if you stop assuming that people need to transport 5 people and 200lbs of luggage 250 miles per trip. Gasoline cars can do that, and electric cars cannot. So you are right that they aren't apples-for-apples competitive.

        if California wants to encourage new technologies by drafting legal requirements, then pulls a double-cross by dropping the requirements before companies can recoup the money spent creating those new technologies, why should the companies be obligated to let California benefit from said technologies?

        I have to grant you this is a hell of a point - I never thought of it that way.

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @06:05PM (#34274786)
        Have you ever watched Who Killed the Electric Car []? They interviewed people from the GM team itself, who were pariahs within the larger company because GM did not want to go in that direction - they just wanted the whole thing to die. After helping kill the policies that would have created a market for the EV1, GM refused generous offers for the ones they had already built, repossessed them, and then smashed them into cubes.

        Then Toyota came in with the Prius - also viewed by Detroit as an impractical science experiment sure to be rejected by the American Consumer - and Toyota proceeded to make tons of money on it.

  • Not new. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:12PM (#34272976) Journal

    Toyota had a Rav4 EV back in the 2002-2005 timeframe (approximately). So this is merely a reintroduction of a discontinued model.

    Back then ranked the Rav4 EV as equal to a Prius or Civic Hybrid in cleanliness, but 8% dirtier than the Insight hybrid and Civic CNG cars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      The old RAV 4EV was available from 1997 to 2003.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

      I wonder how a diesel would rate on the scale. Europe has a lot of hyper-efficient turbo diesels on the roads there with MPG equal or better than hybrids.

      • Re:Not new. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:30PM (#34273210)


        This is a useless measure for diesels when comparing to gasoline.

        Diesel is more energy dense, so even a diesel with exactly the same efficiency as a gasoline engine will get a better MPG figure.

        Diesels are more efficient than gasoline engines in general, and they tend to be more durable. The durable is because they are built heavier to withstand the higher pressures, so they tend to be much heavier. Thus you need a bigger engine to attain the same performance.

        Now I'm rambling - my point is that it is very hard to compare diesels with gasoline engines on a 1:1 basis. Very few (any?) car companies offer a diesel that compares in performance and handling to their gasoline variant. And the ones that come very close (BMW) charge a huge premium for the diesel version.

        • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

          You aren't rambling; you have a bunch of good points. It would be nice to see diesel alternatives here in the US, other than on the super duty trucks.

          Another advantage is that diesel engines have fewer parts. For example, no spark plugs. Yes, glow plugs need to be replaced, but nowhere near as often, and they are not as critical to basic function of the engine.

          Yet another advantage is that diesel fuel is relatively stable. Gasoline absorbs water turning into a nasty acid, and otherwise decomposes after

          • I believe the only Diesel vehicles available in the US are heavy duty trucks, VWs, Audi (same thing) and Mercedes. There are small cars, but nothing of significance in the real "meat" of the car market here. (SUV, Light truck, Mid Size) Disclaimer: I have not looked recently... I was trying to find out if someone made a diesel vehicle I wanted to drive a few years back and was left wanting.

            • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

              The reason for this is that during the 1980s, Mercedes inundated the US market with smelly, slow turbo diesel cars. Because of the pollution they produced, and the fact that people would drive on breakdown lanes to get around those stench-belchers, it got ingraned in the American mind that diesel == slow and stinky.

              Which is ironic. The Ford F250s and other heavy duty vehicles use diesel and nobody ever complains these days about them.

              Now, if we can get some twin turbo diesel engines for midsize/fullsize r

          • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

            Gasoline absorbs water turning into a nasty acid, and otherwise decomposes after a period of time. Because diesel is an oil, water doesn't mix with it.

            No, but there's a species of fungus that thrives in Diesel fuel tanks, and if you're unlucky enough to get some of that fuel, you're going to have to replace your engine, fuel tank, fuel lines, and fuel pump. Far worse than getting gasoline with water in it; burning old gasoline stinks, but it won't ruin your engine or fuel system.

        • Yeah that's nice. Diesel MPG and gasoline MPG is not comparable. 100% agreed. Now to answer the grandparent's question:

          - The Diesel Jetta and Gulf and A3 have a score of 43, which is 8% below the Prius and Civic hybrids, but equal to the cleanest gasoline cars (like the Yaris or Fit). So you can feel confident that your model year 2009 or 10 TDI is one of the cleanest cars on the road.

        • and let's not forget that Diesel is actually way more costly fuel than gasoline, if it would not be tax subsidized so often. Also diesel is A LOT dirtier, and part of the high premium comes from the things they do to get emissions down. Not only is diesel emissions by nature higher, but the emissions are also more dangerous, higher output of more dangerous particles.

          Diesel is near regular car performance nowadays, but only because they are so highly tuned, basicly a diesel without a turbo is useless. Diesel

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            It is not much more expensive and is not that much dirtier when using newer diesel engine technology.

          • Sorry you _are_ rambling... Diesel is cheaper than gasolin. It is only more expensive in the US, properbly because so little is sold of it screwing up the quantity part of import and sales. Also while it used to be more dirty (having more micro-particles), this is a problem that has been solved for more than 20 years, and are required in all European cars (ships though are still unfiltered and dirty!). So having higher MPG and producing less CO2 per mile, it is currently much cleaner than gasolin. The probl

      • The catch is that those efficient diesels also feature extremely small displacements, are low on power and are normally coupled to subcompact cars. By subcompact I mean the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and others. Size is one issue. A microcar is great if you're single, but even Europeans buy larger cars when they have families. But even those cars come with small engines, much smaller than what's available in the US in a comparable car.

        And that gives rise to a second, and probably larger, problem. Amer

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 )

      I seriously don't know why the car companies go after the diesel electric model trains use (not to be confused with hybrid, as the engine isn't solely there to make electricity but has the added complexity of being coupled to the driveshaft along with the electrical motor).

      It would fix the range issues and be more efficient (they wouldn't even need to use a diesel motor...) overall.

      I know most green nuts who spring for something like this demand purity in their smug so even a tiny combustion motor is anathe

      • by skids ( 119237 )

        Diesel PZEV's died off in the U.S. due to regulations around emissions and diesel sulfur content at the pump. There was legislative churn/unpredicatbility and so the manufacturers were left not knowing whether they would need the expensive exhaust system needed to reach PZEV standards or not, depending on whether the U.S. did or did not require low-sulfur diesel.

        In the U.S., without a PZEV label, an eco-car likely won't sell. Also the tax structure for diesel in Europe is more favorable, and the American

      • by xaxa ( 988988 )

        Possibly it's less efficient. A railway locomotive needs very high torque to start a multi-thousand tonne train -- hence the need for electric motors. A car doesn't need this, so there's no point making an extra energy conversion.

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          You could ditch the whole transmission and all the losses that go with it. Also it seems like you could get quite good towing capacity in a pickup.

    • yeah with probably new drivetrain as it's tesla drivetrain...

  • I was very excited about the Chevy Volt, but at $40K that's too expensive for me.

    The Nisan Leaf sounds nice, too, but I'm scared to buy a car that can only go 100 miles on a charge.

    • The Nisan Leaf sounds nice, too, but I'm scared to buy a car that can only go 100 miles on a charge.

      It can go farther . . . you have to push it, though.

      • Just carry a generator with you. Saw an example of an early DIY electric civic years ago... For extended range driving the guy would tow a small trailer containing a generator big enough to power the car running at highway speeds. A 2cyl engine doesn't use much fuel.
    • Hybrid is the way to go. The ones with 40mpg or better mileage (i.e. Prius, Civic, Insight) are ranked by to be just as clean (or cleaner) as the EVs. All of them qualify as both SULEV and PZEV.

      Another option is the new "clean diesel" cars from Volkswagen and Ford - model years 2008 and later - which run on sulfur-free fuel and near-zero NOx emissions. Some models (not all) also have particulate traps to eliminate soot and typically get > 50mpg.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Hybrid is the way to go. The ones with 40mpg or better mileage (i.e. Prius, Civic, Insight) are ranked by to be just as clean (or cleaner) as the EVs

        Hmm... but what if I like the idea of the Volt because I hate buying gas (and have a short enough commute) and not because I love the environment?

      • or maybe we should just build sane cars. A early 80's model Nissan Cherry does ~5.5L/100Km (~47mpg), and it's a carburated engine.
        A early 80's 1.3 carburated corolla does ~5l/100km. (RWD so less efficient to start with) (50mpg). With good condition engine, and precisely tuned it can go as low as 4L/100km, or 62mpg.
        A modified early 80's corolla with a high tuned 1.6 twincam engine does 6-6.5l/100km. (40+mpg, RWD)
        A 80s Nissan Bluebird 2.0 does about 7-8L/100km with a carburated engine in weakish condition.
        A e

    • The Volt really irks me. The prototype was beautiful in a Art Deco sci-fi kind of way. Then, the accountants got a hold of the design and turned it into a classic "sporty" chick sedan. I was most definitely looking to get it, but after I saw they turned it into a Honda Civic I got turned off.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        I think that had more to do with reality and aerodynamics. No point in going for a hybrid with the aerodynamics of a brick wall.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        It was changed not because of "accountants", but because the drag coefficient was a disaster. Giant stub-nose, wasted hood space that could be used for a slope, sharp corners at the windshield and A-pillars, a wasted opportunity for a Kammback, and huge absurd wheel wells.

        Keeping the drag down is extremely important in early EVs. They never should have given it over to "designers" first. Engineers should go first, designers go *second*. That is, you have the engineers tell you what shape the car needs t

  • Announced earlier this year as part of an ongoing partnership between Tesla Motors and Toyota the RAV4 EV promises to offer a modern take on the classic RAV4 EV which was built between 1007 and 2003 and for many years became a yard-stick by which all other EVs were measured.

    Wow, the RAV4 EV was available before the Norman Conquest of England!

    • From 1007 to the 1600s the RAV4 EV was a Palanquin carried by 4 Eta (unclean worker caste).

      Eta Vehicle
      Equine Vehicle 1600s
      (Luminiferous) Ether Vehicle 1800s
      Electric Vehicle 1900s

    • Wow, the RAV4 EV was available before the Norman Conquest of England!

      Do you see that? Next to the knight on that tapestry? It looks like a smudge. Zoom in. Enhance. A bit to the left, see that? Zoom in. Enhance. Enhance. Zoom in. There it is!

  • I like this approach (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:38PM (#34273318)

    I think hybrid and electric vehicles should be all based on modifications to existing designs. Yes, you're hammering a square peg into a round hole, but I'd rather EV or hybrid technology be an option, not a car.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      I would rather they sold cars with low Cd, rather than trying to always put form over function.

  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:40PM (#34273334) Journal

    I can see value in an EV mini-SUV-ish thing, but I'd rather have an EV Corolla. Basic, light, low wind-resistance transportation. I just need something to get me to and from the train station and occasionally all the way to work and back. Anyway, I don't really envision being able to buy one until the prices come down. I presume this is going to be another $40k+ monstrosity. I hope it succeeds wildly, though, and helps drive prices way down.

  • Tesla is doing the battery pack (Li metal-oxide, 30KWh or so), power electronics, and motor. Range will be about 100 "real world" miles, maybe more if they can squeeze in more batteries.

    The RAV4 is much bigger than it used to be. Compare the original RAV4 [] and today's oversized version. []

    Fifteen years of battery progress later, electrics are almost good enough.

  • Specs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @05:45PM (#34274328)

    Sure would be nice to see some specs on this new electric critter. I've said for a while that the Tesla Roadster power train could be great on SUV platforms that are designed for extra weight, and the Roadster's output is higher than most SUVs anyway, including my 2008 Wrangler.

    So moving forward with assumptions ...

    2010 RAV4 is 3360 pounds with the V6 producing 269HP for a power to weight ratio of 12.49 (smaller is better, Viper is 6.7, Mini Cooper S is 14.5).

    CEO Lentz estimated the EV would be 220 pounds heavier putting it at 3580 pounds, and assuming it's using the same motor from the Roadster that's 288 HP for a power to weight ratio of 12.43 (the Roadster's PWR is 9.45). So essentially the same as the V6, with more initial power, better power control, and no guilt for driving it.

    Hey, sounds like dynamite to me. Plug it in at night, buy tires and brake pads every two years, wash it on the weekends. It should have a range of about 180 to 200 miles. Plenty for anyone's day with the family. For a lot of people it would even get them to grandma's house where it could charge overnight. If they can get it on the road for under $40K I think they might have a winner.

  • And the environmental costs?

    Are the rare earths needed for the motors, electronics and the batteries, along with the lithium or other metals used in the batteries a net energy cost to mine, refine and manufacture versus the savings from the reduced gasoline consumption?

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein