What is it? Based on the current-generation SUV, the Toyota RAV4 electric is produced in partnership with California electric-carmaker Tesla. Toyota supplies its excellent RAV4 SUV, and Tesla provides the giant, 41.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and technology. The result is an EPA-rated range of 103 miles, with an overall efficiency rating of 76 mpg-equivalent. That ratings is about three-quarters as much as today all-electric compact cars provide.
Like its low-volume predecessor, the new EV is available only as a five-passenger, front-wheel-drive model. Toyota says it will build 2,600 units for 2013 and 2014. They will be sold in California, where the EV will be eligible for unlimited carpool-lane access. It stickers for $49,800 and is eligible for $10,000 in tax rebates, with $7,500 from the federal government and $2,500 from California. A three-year, $599-a-month lease is also available, with $3,500 due at signing.
What’s new or notable? The RAV4 is the only all-electric SUV on the market, although competition is coming from the Tesla Model X. To keep charge times down with its big battery, the RAV4 EV is the first electric from a mass-market automaker to use a 10-kW on-board charger. That will bring charge times down to 5-1/2 hours on a special 9.6-kW wall charger made by Leviton. On a standard 240-volt electric-car charger, charge times will be more like 6-1/2 to 7-1/4 hours.
CR’s take: Toyota built 1,484 electric versions of the first-generation RAV4 between 1997 and 2003, and as many as 500 of which are still running around the West Coast. This latest generation should make a natural upgrade for those enthusiasts, as well as consumer drawn to electric vehicles but want more space than a compact car provides. It’s too bad the company is limiting sales to California to meet the state’s stringent EV mandates. Although with a RAV4 redesign on the horizon, a next-gen RAV4 EV would seem likely.
When will it be available? Sept. 24, 2012