No Learning Curve Required with the Toyota’s Smallest Electric Car

No Learning Curve Required with the Toyota’s Smallest Electric Car

Scion IQ EV Side ViewGet in, buckle up, push the start button, put it in forward, push the right pedal, and go.  Driving the new Toyota Scion IQ EV the day before the official press release was a real treat, not an October Halloween promotion trick.  Feeling like a good dance shoe or ski boot, quick, positive, solid, no sloppy or delayed response in steering, acceleration, and braking, the IQ acted like an expensive sports car in the downtown Denver afternoon traffic. Watching for other vehicles, I could see all the way around, not having to guess or take second looks at a blind spot.  Sensing I was in a heavy smooth suspension, I was surprised by the short turn radius.  The battery weight under the floor had to be helping the low center of gravity with no lean while turning around on a dime in the width of a driveway.  Parking was easy, but I had to see the pictures to realize how short this car is.

The forward drive mode choices are D, S, and B, techy short cuts for Default, Sport, and Braking, Default for economy, Braking for the heaviest electromagnetic braking regeneration, and Sport for just plain fun. During an aggressive 3 ½ mile demo ride we took at least 5 miles off the expected remaining range.  Toyota specifications say 7 seconds from 30 to 50 mph in Sport mode, but the more exciting spec would be the time from 0 to 30 mph with the near wheel spin torque and no hesitation.

The small IQ cockpit, like my ’70 Corvette, has within easy reach, all the controls and displays2013 iQ EV13 Behind Wheel of an advanced technology car. All the energy performance and range information was easy to see without being a distraction.  The dashboard instrument displays and the flat panel information console were recessed and nicely tilted to minimize sun glare. The seats are race-car molded comfortable with the forward-back and tilt controls on the outside exactly where my hand expected them to be.  I had to move the seat up for my 31 inch legs and 5’10” frame, leading me to believe that there was plenty of room for over 6 foot long-legged drivers. Reminding me of my ’78 Honda Accord, I love the cargo space in the rear where the back seats fold down and the hatchback goes all the way down to the floor having no threshold to clear for loading or unloading.  Unless the occupants have really short legs or you’re counting the two lap dogs in the rear, the IQ is not for more than two people plus luggage.

The Toyota efficiency number has the IQ at an incredible 167Wh/mile, projecting a 50 mile range for the 12kWh battery.  According to my numbers, that means the vehicle control unit is only allowing the use of 70% of the battery capacity, providing plenty of margin for a long battery life.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that I could ever get to the 50 mile range because the IQ is too much fun to drive.  If the 50 mile range seems short, remember that the average daily commute is less than 40 miles and charging at home saves miles and waiting time at the gas station.

car2go San DiegoToyota’s target application for the IQ seems to be car sharing, where, like the battery electric Smart Car used by Car2Go in San Diego, a 50 mile range is acceptable.  Doing a little walking and saving the taxi fare, I grabbed one of these for my ride home from the airport.  I appreciate the Car2Go sharing choice, but the electric Smart Car is like a golf cart on steroids while the IQ is a real advanced technology car offering transportation and more fun than a go kart. The safety features and comfort accessories take advantage of many years of Toyota development, putting the IQ at the head of its technology class. Before I ask my eight year old grandson, I still want to take a week long class on the operation of any of these new navigation displays and find a user’s group.

I did not drive the IQ at highway speeds where the short wheel base suggests less stability, but I would consider taking the car on a road trip if I could pull a battery trailer to increase the range.

In short, I want one.  However, while I contemplate the unknown price, alas, I have to accept that there are only 90 in existence and they are all spoken for, for now.  I wonder if Car2Go would add some IQs to their fleet for a premium ride?  Maybe I could move to a city that has these in their car share fleet.

Electric Car Test Drive – Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF

Electric Car Test Drive – Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF

Mitsubishi iBy John Addison (10/31/11)

I just drove two electric cars on the same route that included demanding freeway acceleration, cruising along a beautiful ocean highway, serious hill climbing, and maneuvering through street traffic. Let’s compare the Mitsubishi i with a starting price of $29,125 with the Nissan LEAF with a starting price over $6,000 higher.

Mitsubishi will finish 2011 with about 5,000 electric cars on the road globally. Mitsubishi has taken orders for 400 of the Mitsubishi i in the USA and will start dealer deliveries in about 3 months. Nissan will finish 2012 with about 50,000 electric cars on the road globally and 20,000 delivered in the USA.

The Mitsubishi i is a 5-door, 4-seat, microcompact with more room inside than a MiniCooper and friendly outside looks similar to a VW bug. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-door 5-seat, compact hatchback with stylish yet conventional looks.

Mitsubishi i Meets Demands of Test Drive

I started each test drive at a Best Buys in Northern California. Mitsubishi is first touring the West Coast and later other parts of the country letting people take their EV out for a spin. Some showed up solo, others brought the family including kids and car seats. Best Buys will be putting some Mitsubishi i cars into their Geek Squad fleet. Best Buys also sells the Eaton Level 2 charger and can arrange the charger installation in your garage.

Being a pure battery-electric the Mitsubishi i cruised the first mile in near silence, demanding little work from the electric motor. Then I entered a freeway onramp where I was forced to accelerate into merging freeway traffic up a 6-percent grade. I shifted from ECO to Drive mode for better acceleration. On a flat the Mitsubishi can go from zero to 60 in 12 seconds. Up these steep freeway grade the Mitsubishi merged into traffic, slowly accelerated to 70 mph passing a couple of cars and trucks that were struggling with the hill which I purposely selected for this test drive.

When I reached the peak, I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. As I took a steep downhill decent, I shifted into “B” which aggressively applied motor resistance for regenerative braking. When I leveled out on Coast Highway, I shifted back into ECO mode that extends the electric range about 10 percent by smoothing acceleration. After 3 miles I ascended another steep hill. ECO mode handled the ascent just fine.

The Mitsubishi i handled curves well. It had a bit of a sports car feel due to its low center of gravity and rear-wheel drive handling with the electric motor over the rear axle finished the drive in stop-go traffic with the car handling lane shifts with ease.

Nissan LEAF Meets Demands of Test Drive with Ease

Nissan LeafOn the identical route, I drove my own Nissan LEAF that has been problem free in all driving situations for six months, rain or shine, day or night. The LEAF merged on to the 6-percent freeway grade with more ease than the Mitsubishi, as I shifted from ECO to “D” (drive mode). The LEAF reach 80 mph faster than the Mitsubishi I reached 65 mph. The LEAF has an 80kW electric motor; Mitsubishi 49kW.

As I descended towards the Pacific Ocean, I shifted into ECO mode. The LEAF does not have a “B” mode for extra regen braking, but like other electric cars it does put energy into the lithium battery pack during downhill, when braking, and even when the computer determines that extra energy can be captured.

Enjoying the drive along Coast Highway, I fishermen casting lines, surfers catching waves, and golfers hiking into the rough. Like the Mitsubishi i the LEAF climbed hills fine in ECO mode, handling windy curves with ease, and cruised the surface streets in silence. The LEAF seemed a bit more quiet than the already quiet Mitsubishi i.

Range Anxiety

The Mitsubishi i appeared to achieve 4.3 miles/kW; the 600-pound heavier LEAF only achieved 3.9 miles/kW. The Mitsubishi did not offer a precise reading, just a display showing battery use. The LEAF offered a precise read-out. I did push the LEAF to 80 mph, so the comparison is not perfect, but indicates that the Mitsubishi uses a bit less electricity. Since I have never paid over $40 per month to keep my LEAF charged; the difference is not much.

The lighter Mitsubishi i has an EPA adjusted range of 62 miles with its 16kW lithium battery pack; the Nissan LEAF has an EPA adjusted range of 73 miles with its 24kW lithium battery pack. Stay in ECO mode and stay below 50 mph and you are likely to have a 100-mile range in the Mitsubishi i and 120 in the LEAF.

In pure electric cars, range concerns are real unless you can afford a Tesla Roadster or the new Tesla Model S with a 300-mile range option. To extend range, I always drive my LEAF in ECO mode and rarely exceed 65 mph. I go for smooth driving and use cruise control. On 10 percent of trips, I use Charge Point or Google Maps to find public charging stations, and sometimes spend an hour or two on the computer in the café as I pick-up 10 to 30 extra miles of range. The 2012 LEAF has a Level 2 Charge of 6.6 kW/hour, double the speed of the Mitsubishi 3.3 kW/hour. For some people, that speed will matter.

The 2012 Nissan LEAF comes standard with both DC Fast Charge (CHAdeMO) and Level 2 Charge ports. The DC Fast Charge is an optional extra on the Mitsubishi and narrows the price difference between the two cars to less than $3,000. With either car, a DC Fast Charge can provide 80 percent range in about 20 minutes. Both cars include a cable so that a 110 volt outlet on a dedicated circuit can be used to trickle charge the car, which turns out to be adequate for most people, as we discovered when we had to wait a few weeks for the installation of our Level 2 garage charger.

Since the average American drives 40 miles per day, the Mitsubishi i will meet the needs of most people. Some will prefer to pay the extra $6,000 for the extra range of the LEAF. Because my wife and I have two cars, range has been no problem in our six months of driving. For longer trips, we use the hybrid and save the LEAF for most days. We are also helped with over 100 public chargers installed in the Bay Area where we live and drive.

If you need one car to meet all your range demands, an electric car may still be the answer if you use car rental, car sharing, and/or transit and rail. Others will be happier with a plug-in hybrid, which stays in electric mode for typical trips and acts like a hybrid for long trips. To extend range, just visit the gas station. The have also been impressed with my test drives of plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in. The 2012 offerings from Ford and Honda are also likely to be impressive.

Nissan LEAF offers more Passenger and Cargo Space

Nissan LEAF trunk baby strollerThe Mitsubishi i has 85 cubic feet of interior space, 13 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to 50 with the 50/50, split back seats lowered. The Nissan LEAF has 112/8 cubic feet of interior space, 14.5 cubic feet of trunk space, which expands to much more than the Mitsubishi I when 60/40 split back seats are lowered without needing to remove the headrests.

In my LEAF, my wife can load the back for projects at the schools where she is a speech therapist. I can easily fit my bicycle in the LEAF by removing the front wheel of the bike. In the Mitsubishi i, both bicycle wheels would need to be removed and rear seat headrests would need to be removed. If you need to use a rear child seat or two, you will definitely prefer the Nissan LEAF. You will be even happier with the upcoming Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

I have been in a Nissan LEAF sitting behind a 6 foot, 4-inch driver, and then had him sit behind me. The car is a roomy compact that can seat 5. The Mitsubishi would be a tight fit for four big adults. To its credit, the USA version is bigger than the iMiEV driven in Japan and Europe. The Mitsubishi has more passenger space than some city cars I have driven like the Smart and the MiniCooper.

Both Electric Cars Get High Marks for Safety

I felt safe in both cars, even when merging into freeway traffic. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger Nissan LEAF, but this Mitsubishi i received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.

Nissan Leaf is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF earned a 5-star overall vehicle rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Nissan LEAF is the first fully electric vehicle to earn this highest distinction from the program. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn 5-star ratings.

When driving in snow or heavy rains, some will fell safer in the LEAF with its extra 750-plus pounds of weight. If you regularly must deal with snow, ice, and wet roads, you might  do better with an AWD car than in an electric, but you’ll be making regular visits to the gas station.

Both the Mitsubishi i and the Nissan LEAF are wonderful electric cars that are currently being sold faster than they can be made. For some, the choice will be which car they get first. For others, $6,000 will be the deciding factor. After a federal tax credit of $7,500, the entry cost of the Mitsubishi electric car is only $21,625. The savings of no gasoline and little maintenance, save electric car drivers $1,000 to $2,000 per year.

For city drivers fighting for parking spaces, the smaller Mitsubishi i will allow them to fit into spaces that others cannot and save big by avoiding paid parking. The Mitsubishi i is a maneuverable city car that’s fun to drive.

The Nissan LEAF is America’s most popular electric car. It has enough room inside for 5 people and a fair amount of cargo. It has surprising performance and about 15 percent better electric range than the Mitsubishi i. The 2012 LEAF Level 2 charges at twice the speed of the Mitsubishi i. If you need premium features like DC Fast Charging, back-up camera, and hands-free audio, then the price gap between these two cars is less than $3,000.

Select either and you can feel good about helping with our energy security, environment and never being stuck in line for a gas pump. Take a test drive, you’ll enjoy it.

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Early Owners Love Their Chevrolet Volts

Early Owners Love Their Chevrolet Volts

Jackson Browne Chevrolet Volt – Plugging In Together

Jackson Browne told me that he has only used 8 gallons of gasoline during the 2,000 miles that he has driven his Chevrolet Volt. Jackson is famous as a singer, songwriter, and inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Over 17 million albums have been sold in the U.S. alone.  Jackson is a founder of MUSE – Musicians United for Safe Energy. Prior to this Sunday’s inspiring concert, he talked to members of the press, including me, about his commitment to clean energy.

Jackson likes to plug in

Jackson likes to plug in

When it comes to oil, coal, and nuclear, Jackson knows that we are “Running on Empty.” For over 25 years, he has lived off-grid using solar power and wind energy. Now he rides on sunlight, charging his Chevy Volt electric car with renewable energy. Only on a few long trips, has he needed a little gasoline.

Saturday, I attended a meet-up of 24 owners of Chevrolet Volts. As I chatted with many owners, it was clear that they loved their Volts. Tom and Laurie share driving their Volt. The one driving the most miles for the day takes the fuel-sipping Volt. Normally, Tom takes the Volt for his 60-mile round-trip commute to work. He has averaged 44 miles of the trip in electric mode. The electric-mode range is impressive for his freeway driving, but rush hours lead to slower speeds and better electric range.

When I pressed the happy owners for any negative experiences (I’m trying for journalistic balance in these stories), the only lament was their long wait to get their Volt and their now long wait to get their ordered SPX level-2 charger installed. They have discovered, with few exceptions, level-1 charging using a standard 110v outlet is just fine.

Felix Kramer and Patrick Wang

Volt Drivers Felix Kramer and Patrick Wang

Felix Kramer and his wife Rochelle, in January, became the first couple to own and drive both a Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt. A founder of CalCars,  Felix has been a leading advocate for plug-in hybrids for 10 years. We all owe him a thank you for the accelerated development of electric cars. Being environmentally concerned, they have a “LEAF-first policy” to minimize use of gasoline.

On nine trips to Lake Tahoe, over 200 miles from their home, they drove the Volt. The extended range of the Volt provides for easy non-stop driving. With the LEAF, overnight stops would be needed for recharging. When driving his Volt on snow, the handling has been adequate, but that there is a big market for the first automaker to offer a plug-in vehicle with all-wheel drive for better traction. Felix also recommends that automakers provide better range management with clear display of the miles of each trip without need to reset the odometer and with clear state-of-charge display.

Richard Lowenthal loves driving his Volt. Richard is founder and CTO of Coulomb Technologies and the ChargePoint network. Coulomb now has over 5,000 charge points installed in over 20 countries. I have used their chargers at a number of locations with 100-percent ease and success. Recently, Richard drove his Volt from his home in Cupertino to the San Francisco Airport where he charged with one of 14 Coulomb charge points. Then he went to downtown San Francisco and again charged. When he returned home after 110 miles of driving, he displayed that 102 miles were in electric only-mode.

New General Motors Voltec Charger

GM Voltec chargerThe Volt owner meet-up took place at the General Motors Advanced Technology Office in Palo Alto. Volt and LEAF drivers were charging their vehicles with GM’s new Voltec Level 2 Charger which can be bought through Chevrolet dealers and online for only $499. GM has achieved the low price by eliminating redundant smart charging electronics in the EVSE and letting the vehicle manage charging. Volts have on-board smart charging which can be managed through the vehicle display, the internet, or with smart phones using the GM Volt OnStar Mobile App.

General Motors Shad Balch explained to me that GM has increased its scheduled production of the Volt as it scrambles to catch-up with customer demand. GM will make 16,000 Volts in 2011, almost double its original plans. This includes 2,000 for dealers to provide demonstrations and test-drives. In 2012, General Motors will make 65,000 electric cars including 45,000 Chevrolet Volts for the U.S. market and 15,000 Opel Amperas for Europe.

The new General Motors is an engine of innovation. GM is working on 32 electric car derivatives all based on Voltec, the Chevrolet Volt’s electric drive system and GM’s architecture and roadmap for a number of exciting vehicles future vehicles with electric drive systems. Voltec can accommodate an electric drive system that uses a small engine coupled with an electric generator, such as today’s Chevrolet Volt in America, and the similar Opel Ampera for Europe and Japan.

You don’t need to be a music legend to drive an electric car. The Chevrolet Volt can be leased for $350 per month. Some owners are saving a fortune at the gas station, spending less than $60 per month for the electricity and gasoline needed to run their Volts.

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Mitsubishi i Electric Car Can Be Reserved for $29,195

Mitsubishi i Electric Car Can Be Reserved for $29,195

Mitsubishi iMiEVBy John Addison (6/9/11)

Get Yours for $21,665 After Federal Tax Credit

The new Mitsubishi i (official name with small “i”), bigger and with more zip for the U.S. market, can now be reserved at a low price that will challenge the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, and Honda Fit Electric. The world’s best selling freeway-speed electric car is coming to the U.S. this November.

My 15-mile test drive of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV showed me that this electric car has got what it takes. For example, the i-MiEV with its 46kW electric motor climbed 16% grade steep hill with the same ease as a Nissan LEAF. The U.S. Mitsubishi version will have 49 kW motor. By contrast, the Smart ED with its 16kW motor struggled up hills.

Using a conventional automatic shift, you can drive the Mitsubishi i in 3 modes: ECO for most driving with the best electric range, D for accelerating on freeways and climbing hills, and B to increase motor resistance for maximum regenerative brake power. This pure battery-electric has no gas tank. You can charge it at standard Level 2 J1772 public stations, adding 10 to 15 miles of range per hour of charge. Trickle charge from standard outlets is a slow 8 amp that may get upgraded to 12 A. Such charging will only add 2 to 3 miles per hour of charge. Life the LEAF, and unlike most plug-in cars, a DC Fast Charge option will add up to 70 miles of range in less than 30 minutes.

An optional Eaton Level 2 charger can be ordered for home installation. Mitsubishi will encourage these chargers to be ordered from Best Buy that will do a home inspection then schedule installation by a trained electrician. Since Level 2 charging is standard, you may want to get bids from other electricians for other chargers.

This June, I got to see and hear the latest from Mitsubishi at the EV Symposium presented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Of the 200 people attending the symposium, 40 showed-up in electric vehicles that they owned. 20 of the electric cars were Nissan LEAFs. There were Chevrolet Volts, Tesla Roadsters, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids and a Mitsubishi i. Electric cars are here and their real – very real in the heart of Silicon Valley.

$6,000 Less than Nissan LEAF

Mitsubishi raised the price of their new electric car from $27,990 to $29,195 after Nissan raised the price of the 2012 LEAF by over $2,000. So far, electric car makers are not making money on these EV and they cannot supply fast enough to keep up with demand. The Mitsubishi i is able to start at  $6,000 below the 2012 Nissan LEAF. The Mitsubishi can price lower because it only uses a 16 kW lithium battery; the LEAF, 24 kW. The Mitsubishi range average is 85 miles; the LEAF, 100. Fleet managers will start getting U.S. delivery this November, individuals, in January 2012.

The 5-door hatchback feels like a roomy sub-compact inside. My 5 foot, 10 inch frame, fit easily in the driver’s seat and in the back seat of this 4-seater. The car is definitely designed for the urban environment. Parallel parking is a breeze, just nose in, turn off the car, and walk away. The back seat can fold down if you are loading up at big box stores, using this EV to make deliveries, or have extra work and school stuff.

The Mitsubishi i is a micro compact city-car with a tight turning radius. It can squeeze in neglected parking spaces, saving drives $20, $30, and even $50 per day. Compared to the Japanese i-MiEV, the U.S. version is 5-inches wider. It is 10-inches longer due to U.S. required bumpers.

The Model ES can be reserved for $29,195. The Model SE can be reserved for $31,125. The SE includes some upgraded interior appointments, a deluxe audio system with 360 watts and 8 speakers. With the SE you can pay $2,790 for an optional package that includes DC Fast Charging port, HDD navigation system with a back-up camera, and steering wheel audio controls. If you are ready to commit a $299 deposit, you can reserve your Mitsubishi i online.

The Mitsubishi i with navigation and DC fast charging, however, has little price advantage over the Nissan LEAF with navigation and DC fast charging. The LEAF offers more range, 5-seats, more cargo and a larger car that many will find more reassuring when driving freeways. Others will prefer the city parking space advantage of the Mitsubishi I, the urban styling, and the fun drive.

The Mitsubishi i is about 600 pounds lighter than the LEAF. Some expressway drivers will feel saver in the larger car, but the Mitsubishi electric car received a 4-star rating in stringent crash testing performed by Euro NCAP, a multinational vehicle safety-testing consortium in Europe.

Special Fleet Package for November Delivery

Fleet managers recognize that no vehicle meets all of their needs. Larger fleets may deploy different electric vehicles for different needs. For example, an employee pool could include Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts for those needing extended range. Delivery routes could need 3-ton Smith electric trucks for big items and Mitsubishi I with the back seat folded for quick deliveries in cities with parking space challenges.

The Mitsubishi i should do well in campus environments, short deliveries, and urban driving. Major rental car and car sharing fleets are evaluating the Mitsubishi i. Municipalities like the City of Santa Monica already have the Mitsubishi I on order. A special Fleet Model ES that includes DC Fast Charging will be available for $28,690. Fleet deliveries start in November. The Mitsubishi I will be on the GSA schedule.

An electric car will save most people over a $1,000 per year by avoiding gas station fill-ups. The Mitsubishi electric car is expected to be so reliable that you can prepay $500 for 5 years of maintenance, a big savings over a gasoline car. Yes, you could pay less upfront for fun urban cars like Smart, Fit, Yaris, Fiesta, and Cruze, but the Mitsubishi i will save year after year. You will be impressed with the Mitsubishi i.

Mitsubishi i Specifications

Get details at Mitsubishi. Some features only optional or only for Model SE.

Range 85 miles (targeted LA4 EPA city cycle)
Charge times Standard home 120V outlet: 22.5 hours
Optional home 240V EVSE charging dock: 6.0 hours
CHAdeMO Level 3 public quick-charging: 30 minutes to 80% charge
Top Speed 80 mph
Occupancy 4
Drive Rear-wheel
Motor Rear motor, 49 kW AC synchronous
Battery 16 kWh lithium-ion, 330V, 88 cells
Portable charging cable (Level 1) 120V
Optional home charging dock (Level 2) 240V requires purchase and installation of Eaton EVSE 240V home charging station)
DC quick- charge port (Level 3) ~50 KW (requires SE trim with Premium Package)
Brakes Front ventilated disc and rear drum brakes
Regenerative brake power system
4-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
Brake Assist (BA)
Brake override system
Suspension & Steering Independent strut front suspension with stabilizer bar
Rear 3-link de dion suspension
Speed-sensitive, Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Drivetrain Rear motor layout, rear wheel drive
Single fixed reduction gear transmission
Colors Raspberry
Cool Silver
Labrador Black
Diamond White Pearl
Diamond White Pearl & Ocean Blue Two-Tone
Styling & Functionality Body color outer door handles
Body color power side view mirrors
Halogen projection headlamps
Side marker lamps
Charge door release
Rear window defroster
Rear intermittent wiper and washer
Roof antenna
LED rear combination tail lamps
Fog lamps with DRL function
Auto on/off headlamps
Wheels & Tires 15-inch steel wheels with cover
15-inch alloy wheels
145/65 R15 low rolling resistant front tires
175/60 R15 low rolling resistant rear tires
Tire repair kit (No spare tire)
Colors Basic Black
Premium Brown
Seating & Appointments 4-passenger seating capacity
6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat
4-way manual adjustable front-passenger’s seat
50/50 split fold-down and recline rear seats
Driver’s seat heater
3-spoke steering wheel
Leather wrap steering wheel and shift knob
Upgraded seat covering
Comfort & Convenience On-board recharging system with 120V portable charging cable
Electric manual air conditioning with micron filter
Electric compressor cabin heater
Remote keyless entry
Power door locks
Power windows with driver’s one-touch auto down feature
Variable intermittent windshield wipers
Rear window defroster
Front map lamps
Front and rear assist grips
Dual sun visors
Driver visor vanity mirror
Passenger vanity mirror
Auxiliary 12V DC power outlet
Cup holders (driver and front passenger)
Front door pockets
Floor mats
Silver interior accents
2-tone instrument panel (Premium Brown)
Door trim with cloth insert
Audio & Navigation 100 Watt, AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback with 4 speakers (front door and tweeters)
360 Watt, deluxe AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback and 8 speakers
HDD Navigation system with rearview camera monitor, FUSE Hands-free Link System™ with USB port, Steering wheel audio controls
Integrated audio panel
Safety Advanced airbag* system with dual-stage supplemental front air bags
Driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags
Roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags
Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic (TCL)
3-point seat belts for all seating positions
Front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters
LATCH System (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
Front-seat height-adjustable headrests
Rear-seat height-adjustable headrests
RISE body construction with front and rear crumple zones
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
High voltage cut-off system
Approaching vehicle audible system for pedestrians
Security Vehicle Immobilizer System
Vehicle Security System
Low battery warning indicator
MiEV Remote System (pre activated air conditioning & timer charging)
Packages Premium Package:

  • HDD Navigation system with rearview camera
  • FUSE Hands-free Link System™ with USB port
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Battery warming system
  • Heater outer mirrors
  • DC quick-charge port (a side-mounted charging port for use at public quick-charge stations)

Cold Zone Package:

  • Strongly recommended for cold climates that reach temperatures below zero degrees
  • Battery warning system
  • Heated outer mirrors
Battery 8 years/100,000 miles
New Vehicle 3 years / 36,000 miles limited warranty
Overall length 144.8 in.
Overall width 62.4 in.
Overall height 63.6 in.
Wheelbase 100.4 in.
Track (F/R) 55.9 / 54.3 in.
Vehicle weight 2595 lbs.
Coefficient of drag 0.35
Front legroom 33.8 in.
Front shoulder room 54.8 in.
Front headroom 35.6 in.
Rear legroom 30.0 in.
Rear shoulder room 54.8 in.
Rear headroom 34.3 in.
Cargo Volume 13.0 cu. ft. (approximate)
Max cargo Volume 50.0 cu. ft. (approximate)
Passenger volume 85.0 cu. ft. (approximate)
Turning Radius 15.4 ft.

Technical specifications are based on the latest information available at the time of posting and are subject to change without notice. Features and options subject to change without notice.

Toyota RAV4 EV Test Drive with impressive Tesla Drive System

Toyota RAV4 EV Test Drive with impressive Tesla Drive System

Toyota RAV4 EVBy Tom Bartley (4/11/11)

The test drive of the new Toyota RAV4 EV had three people in the car for about four miles and included a variety of uphill, downhill, stop and go, and freeway driving in 4:30 pm traffic around the Torrey Pines – UTC area of San Diego. This electric SUV beat a V8 gasoline pickup going up hill. The 0-60 in 9.0 sec performance was fine. From my test drive experience and the comments from the other media journalists, the results are very encouraging here at the Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar.

The 90 kW motor, inverter, and battery pack systems are all Tesla components. This car has plenty of torque and is heavy on the regen deceleration. The regen was so heavy that I could drive the car with little or no brake pedal. My impression is that the control system is primarily Tesla, but Toyota will probably add some battery management for long life. When this is released for sale, I expect Toyota to smooth out the accelerator drive and regen controls which could be a bit jerky. The regen in the prototype is so heavy that I noticed in the rear view mirror that following drivers seemed to be riding my rear bumper. Then I remembered that without pressing the brake pedal there is no indication that the car is slowing down.  This was severe enough that it could be the subject of a future safety regulation.

Combine a mature Toyota RAV4 chassis and interior with a maturing Tesla electric drive and you have a premium electric vehicle in months not years. With the heads of the two companies agreeing to the joint development in July 2010, there was no room left for protectionism or “not invented here.” There were a few IP (intellectual property) issues to work out, but teamwork quickly produced 31 converted BEV RAV4 prototypes in the hands of the U.S. Toyota advanced sales team by March 2011. I hope other manufacturers take note and this cooperation can be used as a working model for quickly developing needed products elsewhere.

On the passenger visor there was a sign that said that this was a prototype and may not be up to production quality. Other than the finish of a couple of interior panels, nothing was immediately obvious that would identify these cars to be different from the ones to be sold from the dealer’s show room floor. Upon closer inspection, the charging connector is Tesla and has an adapter to make it compatible with the J1772 Standard. The production model will have the J1772 plug and connector.

The RAV4 driver information displays were based on the standard RAV4, right in front of the steering wheel, making them much easier to see while paying attention to the road. The display is superior to the Plug-in Prius display which is mounted in the middle of the dash. In the RAV4 EV, the left side dial was converted to show how much power was being used and regen recovered by the motor/generator. The numbers seemed to be right on for about 90 kW max output and about 45 max kW input.

The PRNDL directional controls are push buttons on the center console. The position of the buttons are in the traditional gear shift pattern similar to the plug-in Prius that puts R (Reverse) forward and D (Drive) back. I would prefer that the controls highlight the new technology and put the buttons in a location to match the direction of motion, D forward and R back. I understand that the push buttons may not survive into the production model. On this prototype, there was a big red button on the dash that I was warned not to push. I think it was a safety switch that disconnected the high voltage battery.

To achieve 100 mile real world range (not just the LA4 urban drive cycle) there are 37 kWh of usable energy storage that would indicate a 370 Wh/mile consumption rate. For most drive cycles, I’m guessing that the efficiency is a bit better, but Toyota wants to offer a real 100 miles range for highway speeds as well as flat stop-and-go commutes. Tesla wouldn’t disclose the total capacity of the pack nor the specific Li-ion chemistry, only that it is small format cells in modules the same as those used in the Tesla Roadster and the new Tesla Model S.

The battery is liquid cooled with a tight temperature management for cell life and performance in all temperature environments. Similar to the other Tesla vehicles, any time that the car is connected to the charger or whenever the car is turned on, the temperature management system is active.

A separate liquid cool loop for the motor and inverter/controller is also planned for the production model, but they are air cooled in these prototypes. The passenger compartment has another liquid cooling loop for the A/C using a design from the Lexus hybrid.

Rumor has it that the price of the new Toyota RAV4 EV will be in the $40,000 range. This is consistent with a 40 kWh battery costing $500/kWh and with a battery pack being half the price of an electric car. With the Tesla S priced starting at $57,400, the RAV4 EV could be the right electric SUV at the right price for both companies. $40K stills seems expensive, but it gets more attractive as gasoline continues it’s climb above $4/gallon.

Toyota RAV4 EV Specs

  • Curb weight – 3942 lbs
  • Storage space – 73 cu ft, same as RAV4 V6
  • Acceleration, 0-60 mph – 9.0 sec, matched to the RAV4 V6
  • Range – 80 to 120 miles measured by actual driving trips (not LA4 drive cycle)
  • Usable battery capacity – 37 kWh
  • 100% SOC charge time
    • 28 hrs @ Level 1 – 110 VAC avg 12 amps
    • 12 hrs @ Level 2 – 220 VAC avg 14 amps
  • Estimated full battery and cost – 41 kWh @ ~$20,000
  • Estimated selling price at 2X battery ~$40,000