Dedini and Novozymes Sign MoU on Cellulosic Ethanol Production in Brazil
European Investment Bank and PSA Peugeot Citroën Sign €200M Loan Agreement for the Development of Plug-In Hybrids

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.

Account Deleted

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..

Account Deleted


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...


your estimate of $76k for a 240 mile range shows why Toyota is interested in FCVs for larger vehicles.
If they really can get the cost down to around $50k then the incremental cost of more range is only in the hydrogen tanks.

Account Deleted


I need to see a 50,000 USD fuel cell SUV at the dealer before I believe it. Currently the technology is not ready because it still lacks durability and cost too much to manufacture. Moreover, for decades there will be very few public places to get the hydrogen. Moreover, fuel cell vehicles may have lightweight drive trains but they are more voluminous than possible with ICE and battery EVs because of the large size of the hydrogen tank. A better alternative is a 50,000 USD SUV with a Volt like drive train. That should be possible to do now using about 7000 USD for a 16 kWh battery, 7000 USD for a generator and 7000 USD for an electric motor and power electronics and the remaining 29,000 USD for a large SUV without drive train. You could do a small SUV for about 40,000 USD this way.

As I see it, the future of automobiles will be a combination of pure battery EVs and EVs with ICE range extenders. As a range extender I don’t believe the fuel cell will ever be able to compete with the low costs and high power and energy densities of an ICE. I also think that natural gas will replace gasoline and diesel as the preferred fuel for the range extenders because natural gas will stay inexpensive for centuries as a result of new discoveries and extraction technologies for shale gas and gas hydrates. Future vehicle to grid technology will also enable owners of range extended vehicles to earn money providing peek power to the grid burning natural gas in their range extenders. Providing peek power this way will be cost efficient in a grid that gets its base load from renewable energy, such as, wind power. Such a grid will imply that central natural gas power plants will have very low capacity factors and therefore very high capital expenses. Therefore, it will cost less per kWh produced to use vehicle to grid technology where the capital cost of the range extender is zero as it is already paid for when buying the vehicle.


I like the sound of that Henrik, a nat gas range extender is also a CHP unit when the car is plugged into the grid. Natural gas delivered is only a very cheap, and if the cost of the engine is already accounted for, electricity can be produced very cheaply with heat also produced.

Start adding biogas into the mix, and eventually small amounts of hydrogen if you start getting cheap enough electricity spot prices.


RAV4-EV born again.

It would be practical if it comes (as an option) with a small rotary or 2 or 3 cyls genset and consequently a smaller battery pack.


Here is the Peugeot 307 fuel cell demonstrator with 4.2kg of hydrogen stored at 700psi:
Also included in this not very large package is a 13kwh battery to make this a true plug-in hybrid:

Since the fuel cell pack itself is compact your point that the storage of the hydrogen would not be possible seems incorrect.

Hyundai intends to go to volume production of a larger SUV-style FCV in 2012, at a 1,000 a year, building up to 10,000 a year in 2015.
At that point they reckon they can hit a cost of around £35k.
Durability of around 120,000 miles has been attained now, and they are on course for 150,000 by 2015.
This is adequate for a full FCV, and well above what would be needed for a plug-in.


Considering that Ford owns part of Mazda, they could put a rotary genset in a Focus or other vehicle and really have something.

Account Deleted


I am not incorrect about the poor volumetric energy density of fuel cell vehicle powertrains caused by the bulky hydrogen tank that leaves little space for passengers and luggage. Panasonics upcoming 2012 silicon based lithium battery cells enable building a more compact battery electric powertrain than will ever be possible in a FC vehicle. This is shown below:

Volumetric energy density of Panasonic’s newest cells: 800Wh/l.1) Discharge efficiency 99% meaning an effective energy density of 792Wh/l.

Volumetric energy density of compressed hydrogen at 700 bar: 5.6MJ/l = 1555Wh/l. 2) Fuel cells are at most 60% efficient meaning an effective energy density of 933Wh/l.

Now, this means that Panasonic’s forthcoming lithium batteries (2012 delivery) are almost as energy dense as highly compressed hydrogen when the space for the fuel cell it selves and the high-pressure tanks are ignored for the calculation. If that space is included you will lose minimum 50% more in terms of space as the pressure tanks are impossible to build in prismatic shapes as it is possible with battery cells and because the fuel cell stack and its full size cooling grill is very bulky too. The battery cells also need packaging and a cooling system but the volumetric loss is more likely to be 20%.


Practical volumetric energy density for Panasonic’s new silicon batteries 633Wh/l=(800*0.99*(1-0.2)).

Practical volumetric energy density for fuel cell battery 466.5 Wh/l= (1555*0.6*(1-0.5)).

Moreover, Panasonic and other battery makers will be able to continue to improve their silicon based battery cells whereas it is practically impossible to increase the energy density of hydrogen in pressure tanks as higher pressure will also lead to bigger pressure tanks.

Hydrogen for vehicle transportation is a dead end for many reasons including non-competitive volumetric energy density. However, I think that liquid hydrogen in cryogenic tanks and fuel cells in electrically propelled airplanes will have a future in air transportation for goods and humans when the price of ordinary aviation fuel starts to increase seriously as oil reserves are used up.

Source 1, Panasonic 800Wh/l cells
Source 2, Hydrogen 1555Wh/l at 700 bar


Henrik, thank you for the interesting FC/battery comparison.

" think that liquid hydrogen in cryogenic tanks and fuel cells in electrically propelled airplanes will have a future in air transportation for goods and humans when the price of ordinary aviation fuel starts to increase seriously as oil reserves are used up."

This is why so many are working on alternative jet fuels that are sustainable. Doubtful that prop driven airplanes will replace jet aircraft anytime soon. Although for long flight observation platforms cryo-H might be of interest to DOD.


Hello henrik. The obvious fact is they already manage to make perfectly fine 300 and up mile range fuel cell cars with alot of space inside them. They ev en make rather niofty little tiny fuel cell mopeds that are frankly smaller then they need to be with itty bitty fuel tanks and fuel cells and a range of 75 km.. much farther then any bev moped.

No the question isnt can they do it its at what cost and how durable is it? The asmwer is cheap enough and durable enough for a start around 2015. The answer is more then cheap enough and more then durable enough after that point.


A Vectrix VX1 scooter has a range of 110 km on old-skool NiMH batteries.

The comments to this entry are closed.