14 September 2010

Toyota and Tesla's first Electric Car: a RAV4 EV

USA Today

Ever since Toyota signed a deal with Tesla Motors to jointly develop an electric car, speculation has run rampant about what the first collaboration will be. A Yaris subcompact? A version of the Tesla roadster?

Well, get ready to be underwhelmed. The pair's initial effort will be an all-electric drivetrain version of the RAV4, which will debut at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Toyota announced the move yesterday via Twitter. Why underwhelmed? Because by hauling around all the weight of an SUV, it's hard to imagine will a RAV4 electric vehicle will have much in the way of range or performance. But, hey, surprise us.

At least a new RAV4 EV will have nostalgia value. A bunch of the old electric RAV4s from Toyota's initial step into the electric-car world in the 1990s are still driving around in Southern California. Unlike General Motors, Toyota never scrapped its EV fleet, a move much appreciated by EV advocates. Now a new electric RAV4 is on the way.

The company also said it could have another two hybrids in the U.S. market by 2012, and plans to have six hybrid vehicles in its global lineup by that time.
The automaker is also plans on going head-to-head with General Motor's Chevy Volt by adding a plug-in version of the Toyota Prius that will be priced $13,000 below the Volt.

Toyota expects to sell the plug-in version, which can go 13 miles on battery alone, by June 2012. The Volt will be priced at $41,000, minus government rebates, and the all-electric Nissan Leaf will go for about $32,000.

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