Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. (TMS) offered news media first-drive opportunities Aug. 2 for the Toyota RAV4 EV, an all-new, all-electric SUV arriving in select California dealerships later this summer. The RAV4 EV is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated driving range rating of approximately 100 miles and charges in approximately six hours on a 240V/40A charger.

In July 2010, Toyota Motor Corp. and Tesla Motors jointly announced an agreement to develop an all-electric version of the RAV4, with the intent to bring the vehicle to market in 2012. Twenty-two months after the project announcement, Toyota and Tesla engineers revealed the vehicle at Electric Vehicle Symposium 26 in May 2012.

To manage such a compressed timetable, Toyota engineers devised the eFAST process (early field and suitability testing), a new protocol specifically put in place for the RAV4 EV to validate and confirm vehicle performance.

The RAV4 EV will arrive fully-equipped with an MSRP of $49,800, with available combined federal and state incentives of up to $10,000. Sales volume is planned for approximately 2,600 units through 2014.

The RAV4 EV is expected to qualify for a $2,500 rebate through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program in California and also is eligible for a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit. The vehicle will qualify for the California High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane white sticker program.

The RAV4 EV combines a Tesla designed and produced battery and electric powertrain with Toyota’s most popular SUV model. The collaborative team set its sights on optimizing the customer experience. From remote charging options to interior comfort to futuristic interactive displays, the RAV4 EV combines the practical features of a compact SUV with aerodynamic styling and an electric powertrain for the longest EPA-estimated driving range rating of any non-luxury EV, according to Toyota.

Compared with the gas-powered RAV4, Toyota re-styled the front bumper, upper and lower grill, side mirrors, rear spoiler, and under body design to optimize air flow around the vehicle. The RAV4 EV’s battery pack is mounted low and to the center of the vehicle, contributing to a more sedan-like ride.

The Drive and Charging

The front-wheel-drive RAV4 EV allows drivers to select from two distinctly different drive modes, Sport and Normal. In Sport mode, the vehicle reaches 0-60 mph in just 7 seconds and has a maximum track speed of 100 mph. Normal mode achieves 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds with a maximum track speed of 85 mph. Maximum output from the electric powertrain is 154 hp (115kW).

The RAV4 EV has two charge modes – Standard and Extended. In standard mode, the high voltage battery charges up to 35 kWh and the vehicle is expected to achieve an EPA-estimated driving range rating of 92 miles. Extended Mode allows the battery to charge to its full capacity of 41.8 kWh, providing an anticipated EPA-estimated driving range of 113 miles. Standard mode is designed to optimize battery life over range.

The RAV4 EV’s battery and thermal management systems provide consistent vehicle performance in a variety of climates and the liquid-cooled battery is a first for Toyota.

Toyota engineers devised a number of strategies to help optimize the available EV range on the Toyota RAV4 EV. The climate control system has three modes which allow the driver to select their preferred level of comfort and EV driving range.

In NORMAL mode, the climate control system operates in the same manner as a conventional vehicle and provides the maximum comfort level, but also draws the most power, which in turn reduces the EV range.

ECO LO mode is recommended to achieve a balance of cabin comfort and improved range through reduced power consumption of the blower, compressor and/or electric heater. In cold weather, ECO LO also automatically activates and controls the seat heaters to optimal levels based on the cabin thermal conditions.

ECO HI further reduces blower, compressor and heater levels and also automatically activates the seat heaters if necessary. The use of ECO LO can reduce the climate control system power consumption up to 18 percent compared with NORMAL while ECO HI offers up to 40 percent power reduction compared to NORMAL. Thus use of either ECO LO or ECO HI mode extends the vehicle’s EV driving range.

Remote Climate Control allows drivers to pre-cool or pre-heat the vehicle prior to driving while the vehicle is plugged-in, which conserves battery charge and EV range. The Remote Climate Control system can be set by a timer on the navigation display. It can also be activated using a smart phone.

Cooperative regenerative braking increases driving range by up to 20%.

In addition to robust accident protections, the RAV4 EV is designed with multiple systems to help protect and maintain a proper state of charge on the battery. For example, the onboard charger is equipped with a hardware voltage limiter to prevent overcharging the battery. To prevent over-discharge, the air conditioning system and driving power will be limited at defined low States of Charge, prompting the driver with a warning in the meter display to plug the vehicle into a power source.

Finally, the battery system is designed to handle a lengthy period of non-operation. At a 50% state of charge, the RAV4 EV can sit without charging for approximately one year with no permanent loss of function. If the battery pack does become depleted, its 12V battery will allow the vehicle to turn on and shift into neutral. If the 12V battery is also depleted, it can be jumped, according to the automaker.

The Interior

No interior space is lost in the vehicle due to EV components, with total cargo capacity equivalent to the conventional RAV4 of 73 cu. ft. behind the front seats.

The highlight of the interior is a Toyota first; the IntelliTouch capacitive touch screen, featured on both the 8-inch navigation screen and climate control panel. The 8-inch, high-resolution, responsive touch- screen features a graphic display, with split screen capability for navigation, Entune and EV applications, and EV drive information and settings designed specifically for the RAV4 EV. The touch screen also allows map panning and list scrolling via flick operation similar to an iPhone. The climate control panel features IntelliTouch capacitive touch sensor controls and a 5.7-inch display screen.

An all-new meter cluster includes the power meter, driving range, battery gauge, speedometer, shift indicator and multi-information display. The dash display color illuminates red when the vehicle is operating in sport mode and blue in normal driving mode.

The multi-information display scrolls through six different screens that provide driver-performance feedback including driving range, trip efficiency, efficiency, ECO coach, CO2 reduction, and AUX power:

  • Driving range displays an estimated range according to the amount of charge remaining in the traction battery along with the current air condition setting. The range will adjust based on the setting of the air conditioning.
  • Trip efficiency displays the average power consumption in intervals of five minutes during a trip. Efficiency displays average power consumption since the function was reset as well as current power consumption.
  • Eco coach evaluates the level of eco-sensitive driving according to acceleration, speed and braking and displays an overall score.
  • CO2 reduction displays the amount of CO2 reduced compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. The reduction is displayed as a growing tree.
  • AUX power displays average 12V battery power consumption since the function was reset and the current trip’s 12-volt battery power consumption.

Other Features

The Premium Intellitouch Navigation screen features EV system screens that help customers understand and maximize their driving range.

  • The EV charging schedule lets customers schedule when the vehicle will charge and activates pre-climate conditioning based on departure time. Charging can be scheduled one charge at a time or on a weekly basis.
  • A Range Map specifically designed by Toyota for the RAV4 EV, allows customers to see how far they can travel for roundtrip or one-way trip based on their available electric range.
  • A Charging Station Map EV app allows customers to locate nearby charging stations.