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Tesla and Toyota Formalize Agreement to Develop Electric Version of RAV4; Targeting US Sales in 2012

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.



"The first prototype has already been built and is now undergoing testing."

The RAV4-EV lives again, today!


Good to hear the RAV4 is back.
If they want to then they could get around double the range buy using lithium instead of NiMH, but that would make it a bit pricey.
I reckon Toyota is more interested in getting their hands on the hand-outs from the US Government, tax credits etc that Tesla can be sure to get than any expertise Tesla have.


No. This is Toyota desperate to get some of what Tesla has... Innovative, creative minds. They can get all the tax breaks they want by building a ground up EV. But two years ago when only Tesla and GM were unwavering in the EV path, Toyota announced that Li-ion batteries were a potential safety hazard and they would not build EVs. Until those fears were resolved.

Solution for Toyota... Buy a piece of the most successful EV battery pack maker available. Now there is a good partnership which benefits both parties and the global public. Green Car Congress has provided a forum for this evolution and should take a bow for doing so. Thanks for sticking to it GCC!!


Toyota want to get their hands on Tesla's allowance of tax breaks for the first 200k vehicles, I would have thought.


This cooperation between Tesla and Toyota is brilliant.

That the new Rav4 EV will launch in 2012 can only mean that it will use a copy of the Model S’s drive train including the 300 miles battery pack. Otherwise that time frame would be impossible. Tesla win because they will be able to scale up the production of Model S’s drive train a lot faster than if it was only going into the Model S. Toyota win because they will have a really cool and useful EV on the market in 2012 perhaps 3 years ahead of what they could do without Tesla as a partner.

Dave R

Tesla seems to work very fast - seems just like yesterday they announced their partnership and they already have a RAV4-EV prototype running around... Amazing!

Getting one to market by 2012 sounds aggressive given that most manufacturers who are aiming for 2012 release have already been working on their cars for years.

I imagine that the speed at which Tesla works at is one reason Toyota decided to work with them.


It seems that adapting an existing e-drive train to an existing ICE vehicle does not take near the 7 years used to develop the Volt. That may be one of the main reason why existing (not necessarily ideal) ICE vehicle bodies are used for first generation PHEVs. The second main reason may be lower development cost. A third main reason may be image and PR. The RAV4 is a well known, well accepted vehicle.



I don't think the RAV4 EV will get 300 mile range, whatever the battery pack. Bigger frontal cross section, higher Cd, and probably heavier than the roadster.

Most significantly...they won't want to price it that high, even with subsidies. I'm guessing ~130 mile range would make the RAV4 EV $30K after subsidies.


My how what's old is new again...


Manufacturer Toyota
Production 1997-2003

"The 95 amp-hour NiMH battery pack has a capacity of 27 kWh, charges inductively and has proven to be surprisingly durable."

Looks like they had the formula, so it is deja vu all over again.


So, what does this bring to the table/market in 2012?

An EV good, but what makes it stand out/

SUV styling?


Toyota continues the EV they rubbed in GM's face beginning a dozen years ago, besides spitting on the GM/Chevron conspiracy that killed EV's, their EV-95 batteries, and sued them out of $thirty million.

Oh, and if the new EV RAV4 fails - Tesla did it..

Tesla gets the NUMMI plant in their beloved Silicon Valley, both Toyota and MB investment vetting, larger EV power train scale, and early IPO cash flow.

And Musk might actually be more than a pile of headlines..



I don’t expect either that the Rav4 EV will get a 300 miles range. As you say it is heavier and less aerodynamic than the Model S. But I hope the Rav4 EV will come with the 300 miles battery option from the Model S which is a 90kWh battery that should be able to give the Rav4 EV about 240 miles of range. For an entry version of the Rav4 EV it could get the 160 miles Model S 45 kWh battery that probably is enough for 120 miles in the Rav4 EV. I expect the Rav4 EV to cost about the same as the Model S as most of the expensive parts will be similar. My bet is that a Rav4 EV 120 miles range will cost about 58,000 USD before incentives and about 76,000 USD for a 240 miles version.

I hope it will be possible to fit a swappable battery beneath the Rav4 EV with three range options from 120 to 240 miles as in the Model S. That may require that the Rav4 also gets a modified version of the Model S’s chassis. So the Rav4 EV may end up being mostly a Tesla made product but Toyota will learn a lot in the process that they can use to design other EVs that stand a much better chance of being able to compete with Nissan/Renault’s EVs.


"Tesla seems to work very fast - seems just like yesterday they announced their partnership and they already have a RAV4-EV prototype running around... Amazing!"

Welcome to VR Inception.


Although in it's various model years an apparently reliable, extremely useful, work-a-day-pack-up-for-vacation sort of vehicle (I owned one and loved it), imho not the most aerodynamic of shapes. I cannot imagine it on spindly, low friction wheels, or with an aftermarket superfairing in order to ease it's trucklike passage through the atmosphere...

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