Toyota Rav4 EV (2012) - Tesla/Toyota SUV scooped

Published: 22 December 2011

Remember the Toyota RAV4 EV concept shown at the 2010 Los Angeles auto show? These spy shots show the latest test cars, bound for low-volume production in 2012.

Toyota has teamed up with Tesla to help develop the electric RAV4. The Californian start-up has supplied the battery pack and e-motor - appropriately enough, as the e-RAV4 is destined for sale mostly in the west coast.

The Japanese giant is paying Tesla around $100 million to supply the battery, motor, gearbox and power electronics for the e-RAV4. They will be built in California and then shipped north to Toyota's factory.

Toyota RAV4 EV: the lowdown

The electric RAV4 concept had a lithium ion battery with around 30kWh of juice. Back at LA, Toyota claimed it would have an EV range of around 100 miles.

These spy shots of the new electric RAV4 suggest the production version will keep the concept's looks; it's recognisably a RAV4, but sports more streamlined grille panels.

Peek behind the black camouflage bib and you can see that the grille, headlamps and LED day-running lights are all virtually unchanged.

Tellingly, there's no exhaust pipe at the back. This is an electric SUV, after all.

Inside the electric Toyota RAV4

A stubby Prius-alike gearlever is a giveaway inside the e-RAV4's cabin that this is not a petrol or diesel SUV.

And if you were in any doubt, the EV sticker on this test prototype is a dead giveaway: it reads, simply, 'EV'.

So when can we buy the RAV4 EV in the UK?

Ah, you can't. There are no current plans to sell the electric RAV4 in Britain, or indeed anywhere in Europe. This is a very US-centric solution and the car will be assembled at the existing Ontario, Canada which already produces the regular RAV4 for the States.

'The Tesla-Toyota joint development team has agreed that building the vehicle at the Woodstock plant on the same line as the gasoline-powered RAV4, will streamline and simplify the production process and guarantee the highest level of quality control,' said Ray Tanguay, Toyota chairman in the US. 'This is a great example of Toyota's determination to collaborate with companies with leading edge technology.'

The car will go on sale in 2012.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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