2012 Toyota Rav4 EV. Credit: Toyota
2012 Toyota Rav4 EV. Credit: Toyota

Toyota has announced the release of its 2012 all-electric RAV4. This is the company’s second effort at making a green RAV4. The unveiling of the small SUV, which will be powered by Tesla, took place Monday at the Los Angeles Convention Center as part of the 26th International Electric Vehicle Symposium. Toyota leased a version of the electric RAV4 from 1997 to 2003. Many of the original models, which were subsequently bought, are still on the roads.

The specs

The RAV4 EV combines a Tesla designed and produced battery and electric power train with Toyota’s small SUV. The electric RAV4 has an anticipated driving range of about 100 miles which is, sadly, not much different than its predecessor. The charging time should be about 6 hours using a 240v charger. The Tesla components will be manufactured at the Tesla location in Palo Alto. The manufacturing of the Rav4 EV will take place at Toyota’s plant in Ontario.

Unveiling of Toyota's Rav4 EV in Los Angeles
Unveiling of Toyota's Rav4 EV in Los Angeles. Credit: Jessica Gilman

What does an electric RAV4 driver think?

Jay Friedland has put 93,000 miles on his 2001 all-electric RAV4 and still gets about 85 miles per full charge. Although he has not driven the 2012 model, he likes his old RAV4 EV so much that he visited a Palo Alto Toyota dealer four months ago to put a deposit down on the new model. “I have been waiting for a long time,” says Friedland who was at Monday’s unveiling. “It was the car that changed my life,” he explains.

After going electric eleven years ago, Friedland became a major advocate of the electric drive and is now the legislative director for Plug-In America where he works on EV policy and government incentives.

Friedland was part of the group Don’tcrush.com which urged Toyota not to demolish its electric RAV4s when the Japanese car maker discontinued the model. Unlike GM with its EV 1, Toyota eventually allowed drivers to buy their lease out. “I love the quiet, the fast acceleration, the fact that I’ve saved 45 tons of CO2 from going into the atmosphere,” Friedland says.

Where can I get one?

The MSRP for the new, electric RAV4 is expected to be $49,800, before tax credits. The car will go on sale later this year in select markets including Los Angeles, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego.


Andrea Kissack

Andrea Kissack (@andreakissack) is KQED's Senior Science Editor. Andrea was born in Los Angeles and discovered radio news through listening to her college radio station. With a curious mind and a love for telling stories, she set off for Tampa where she landed her first job as a reporter for Florida Public Radio. After three years reporting in an unbearably humid climate and a brief stint as a miscast opera reporter, Andrea returned to L.A. to work for public radio, then for television news and finally as a reporter for CBS radio. Andrea has been at KQED for over twelve years, working first as a producer for Forum, and then as the senior producer for The California Report. She is now KQED's Senior Science and Environment Editor and narrates the QUEST television program. Andrea says she feels lucky to cover emerging science and environmental trends in a place where geek is chic.

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