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All-electric Toyota RAV4 concept

Toyota uses Tesla electric powertrain for new EV

Toyota EV logo

Toyota RAV4 EV to be unveiled next week

Toyota has announced that it will show a RAV4 EV (electric vehicle) concept at the Los Angeles motor show next week.

The Toyota RAV4 EV is the result of a joint project between Toyota and American all-electric sports car manufacturer Tesla. It previews a production version intended for the US market in 2012.

Toyota RAV4 EV: combined effort

Details are so far scarce – full specifications won’t be announced until 17 November – but we can tell you that the RAV4 EV uses a Tesla electric motor, hidden away beneath its SUV bodywork.

This development follows on from an announcement in May confirming that Toyota would be working together with Tesla to produce its future all-electric vehicles. Through this cooperation, ‘Tesla will benefit from Toyota’s manufacturing expertise, while Toyota aims to learn from Tesla’s EV technology capabilities, and its responsive and flexible approach to business and decision making’.

The potential for a clash of cultures seems huge, but we’re sure both parties know what they’re doing…

Toyota concept dash

Toyota and Tesla have teamed-up for new EV

Toyota and Tesla EV history

The new concept isn’t the first RAV4 EV though. Between 1996 and 2003 Toyota built 1,900 all-electric versions of the first-generation RAV4.

These were the first vehicles to be powered by nickel-metal hydride batteries – the technology that forms part of the current Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system in cars such as the Prius and Auris hybrids.

Tesla, meanwhile, has been selling its all-electric Roadster sports car since 2008. Nominally based on the Lotus Elise platform (in fact a very small percentage of parts is actually shared between the two cars), the Tesla Roadster uses more modern lithium ion batteries. 

Power output from the electric motor is between 248bhp and 288bhp depending on the model, and it is capable of sprinting past 60mph in as little as 3.7 seconds.The Tesla Roadster has a potential range of more than 200 miles. Despite an asking price in the region of £100,000, more than 1,200 examples have so far been sold.

Going the distance

It’s unlikely the RAV4 EV will be as fast as the Roadster, but this concept is likely to boast a highly impressive mileage range.

The Nissan Leaf, which will be the first bespoke platform all-electric vehicle to go on sale in UK dealerships early next year, claims a range of only around 100 miles.

Read our review of the current, non-electric, Toyota RAV4 or check out our First Drive of the Nissan Leaf


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