A conventional 2009-2010 RAV4. Click to enlarge.

Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor Corporation have signed an agreement to initiate the development of an electric version of the RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive). (Earlier post.) With an aim to market the EV in the United States in 2012, prototypes will be made combining the Toyota RAV4 model with a Tesla electric powertrain.

Tesla plans to produce and deliver a fleet of prototypes to Toyota for evaluation within this year. The first prototype has already been built and is now undergoing testing.


2002 – 2003 Toyota RAV4-EV. Click to enlarge.

In May, Tesla and TMC announced their intent to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support. Tesla seeks to learn and benefit from Toyota’s engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise, while Toyota aims to learn from Tesla’s EV technology, daring spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility.


Powertrain components in the first-generation RAV4-EV. Source: Toyota. Click to enlarge.

The new RAV4 EV would represent a second generation for an electric version of that model. From 1998 to 2003, Toyota leased or sold 1,485 first-generation RAV4-EVs to fleet customers and private individuals in California as part of the state’s Zero-Emission Mandate program.

Those vehicles were powered by a 288V, 26 kWh NiMH battery pack with a range of about 80 miles between charges, according to Toyota. A survey of 132 RAV4-EVs by the Electric Auto Association presented to the California Air Resources Board found a range of 103.1 miles, with an 11.6 mile standard deviation.