First Electric SUV – Toyota RAV4 EV for $49,800

Toyota RAV4 EVBy John Addison (5/7/12)

Toyota just announced the price and details for the first all-electric SUV to reach the market. Starting at $49,800 this exciting new electric SUV can be ordered with a 100-mile range thanks to its 41kW lithium battery pack. Maximum output from the electric powertrain is 154 HP (115kW) @ 2,800 rpm.

This SUV went from design to production in only two years, instead of a more common 4-years. The development speed is thanks to a collaboration between Toyota and Tesla which is 2 percent owned by Toyota. The advanced lithium battery pack and drive system were designed by Tesla is close collaboration with Toyota’s Michigan engineering group as well as others in Japan.

Toyota revealed the all-new Toyota RAV4 EV at the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles where I’m now posting this article. The front wheel drive RAV4 EV allows drivers to select from two distinctly different drive modes, Sport and Normal. In Sport mode, the vehicle reaches 0-60 mph in just 7.0 seconds and has a maximum speed of 100 mph. Normal mode achieves 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds with a maximum speed of 85 mph.  A “B” mode is also included to capture more regen braking downhill.

Normal has better tracking on wet and slippery roads than the “B” mode. The current RAV4 EV does not have an AWD option. The new Tesla Model X SUV, however, will offer AWD, a great feature for those living in rainy and snowy areas where 100-year storms now seem to occur every 5 years. Toyota engineers say they could build a future RAV4 EV with AWD, but it would be more expensive, require a different inverter, added components and software.

California Only All-Electric SUV

Toyota will only build 2,600 of the new RAV4 EV over the next 3 years. It will only be available from select California dealers starting around September in regions including the SF Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles/Orange County and San Diego. The battery warranty is 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Toyota needs exactly 2,600 to comply with California’s ZEV regulation. This electric SUV will qualify for the new California HOV White Sticker.

RAV4 EV offers an exceptionally smooth, quiet ride and comfortable handling due in part to its low coefficient of drag and low center of gravity.   In fact, at 0.30 Cd, RAV4 EV achieves the lowest coefficient of drag of any SUV in the world and helps enable the 100-mile electric range. Compared with the gas powered RAV4, Toyota re-styled the front bumper, upper and lower grill, side mirrors, rear spoiler, and under body design to maximize air flow around the vehicle. The RAV4 EV’s battery pack is mounted low and to the center of the vehicle, contributing to a more sedan-like ride. The RAV4 EV weighs 470 pounds more than the V-6 gasoline RAV4.

On the exterior, RAV4 EV features upscale LED low beam projector headlights with halogen projector high beams. A manual leveling system allows customers to redirect the headlights when the vehicle changes significantly in pitch due to a heavy load. Five vertical LEDs make up the daytime running lights, which dim to parking lights. The rear combination lights are LEDs accented by a unique light smoke outer lens.

Inside, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat includes variable front seat heaters, which extends heater coverage to the occupant’s upper back.  The split reclining rear seats with folding center arm rest fold flat for increased cargo space, with a total cargo capacity equivalent to the conventional RAV4 of 73 cu. ft. No interior space is lost in the vehicle due to EV components.

The highlight of the interior is an eight-inch capacitive touch screen with a state of the art graphic display, featuring navigation, telematics, and EV drive information and settings designed specifically for the RAV4 EV. Entune™ is standard (with three year complimentary access to Entune™ services) along with SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with 3-month trial subscription to XM Select package), AM/FM radio, Bluetooth® streaming audio, and USB port with iPod® connectivity. The dash display color illuminates red when the vehicle is operating in sport mode and blue in normal driving mode.

Toyota’s approved electric vehicle supplier equipment provider is Leviton, which offers multiple options for charging solutions including a custom 240V (Level 2), 40A, 9.6 kW output charging station. For more information visit The vehicle comes equipped with a 120V (Level 1) emergency charging cable for instances when the recommended 240V (Level 2) charging is not available.


In July 2010, Toyota Motor Corporation and Tesla Motors jointly announced an agreement to develop an all-electric version of the RAV4, with the intent to bring the vehicle to market in 2012. Tesla contributed its EV technology expertise, daring spirit, quick decision making and flexibility. Toyota contributed design, engineering, manufacturing and production expertise.  In an industry where development cycles are typically five years, Toyota and Tesla brought a dynamic product to market in less than half that time.

  • May 2010 – Toyota/Tesla announce collaboration to develop electric vehicles, parts, production systems and engineering support
  • July 2010 – Toyota/Tesla announce development of RAV4 EV
  • November 2010 – Toyota reveals RAV4 EV Phase Zero prototype at LA Auto Show
  • February 2011 – Tesla begins delivery of 31 converted RAV4 EV Phase Zero demonstration program vehicles
  • April 2011 – Toyota provides first media drive opportunity of Phase Zero demonstration program vehicle at 2011 Sustainable Mobility Seminar
  • August 2011 – Toyota/Tesla announce RAV4 EV manufacturing location – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc., Woodstock, Ontario
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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

2 thoughts on “First Electric SUV – Toyota RAV4 EV for $49,800

  1. Ralph
    May 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    On another note…. an example of infinite MPG from a boat….

  2. Ralph Perez
    May 8, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Has their been a partnership with a solar PV canopy or rooftop supplier? Wouldn’t an affordable package deal be nice?

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