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autoviva2010-11-18 15:12:39

Toyota RAV4 EV to reach the market in 2012

Toyota RAV4 EV to reach the market in 2012

Toyota has presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show its second-generation Toyota RAV4 EV that the brand expects to reach the markets in 2012. Developed with the collaboration of Tesla the new RAV4 EV will have a total of 35 vehicles built for a demonstration and evaluation program through 2011. These vehicles will help engineers make the final developments for the arrival to the market in 2012, aiming a range of 100 miles in actual road driving patterns.

“When we decided to work together on the RAV4 EV, President Akio Toyoda wanted to adopt a new development model that incorporated Tesla’s streamlined, quick-action approach,” said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer, TMS. “The result was a hybrid – a new decision and approval process and a development style that our engineers refer to as “fast and flexible.”

In the development of the electric RAV4 Tesla was responsible for building and supplying the battery, as well as other related parts, that met specific Toyota engineering specifications in performance, quality and durability. Toyota kept the responsibility of developing and manufacturing the vehicle to fit the electric engine.

“From the beginning, the customer experience has been the focus,” said Lentz. “In other words, how do we deliver an unconventional product to mainstream customers that is compelling and affordable and that offers an acceptable level of daily convenience.”

At the moment the vehicle that is being used by Toyota for testing is powered by a lithium metal oxide battery with useable output rated in the mid-30 kwh range. Nevertheless, decisions about the product, as well as the business model are yet to be finalized. Decisions on the battery size and final output ratings, as well as pricing and volume projections of the vehicle haven’t been taken yet.

In terms of styling the RAV4 EV has suffered some changes when compared to the RAV4 production model. Distinct features include a new front bumper, grille, fog lamps and head lamps. The EV version also shows a special badging, with the custom “mutually exclusive” paint color, completing the transformation.

The first-generation RAV4 EV

The RAV4 EV history goes back to 1997, when Toyota introduced the first-generation into the market as part of the California zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. At the time the RAV4 EV was powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and had a a range of between 80-110 miles on a single charge. Between 1998 and 2003 Toyota managed to sell or lease 1,484 vehicles in the US, becoming the first manufacturer to meet the mandate’s Memo of Agreement on volume sales. Today, there are still 746 first-generation RAV4 EVs on the road.

“Price and convenience proved to be critical success factors and they remain so today,” said Lentz.  “But much has changed in the last few years.  Most importantly, the growing level of awareness that sustainable mobility will come at a cost that must be shared by the automakers, government and the consumer.”

The long-term commitment to hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and battery electrics are part of Toyota’s green technology. In fact for 2012, besides the arrival of the RAV4 EV, the Japanese brand expects to launch as well the Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid) and a small EV commuter vehicle. The strategy also includes the extension of the brands hybrid portfolio with seven new models in 2012 and the launch of the first commercialized hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2015.





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