Tom Hanks has been driving the Toyota RAV4 EV for over ten years. When the Academy Award winning actor, director, producer, and electric vehicle driver wanted a second electric car for the household, however, he could not buy a new RAV4 EV. Toyota and all car makers in the U.S. had stopped making EVs. Instead, Tom Hanks purchased a Scion and had a specialty company, AC Propulsion, convert it into an electric vehicle, replacing the engine and drivetrain with an electric motor and electric drive system.
Jamie Knapp also drives a freeway speed Toyota RAV4 EV. The Toyota is charged with the 3.2 kW of solar power that graces Jamie’s house, providing for zero emission transportation. This beautiful electric vehicle is the primary car for Jamie and her husband. Jamie works at home writing about environmental and energy issues. She chairs a nonprofit group which has greatly contributed to reducing emissions – The Coalition for Clean Air. About twice monthly, Jamie needs to travel beyond the 80 mile range of her EV. Only in those situations does she use their second vehicle which is powered with gasoline.
In addition to being an environmental leader and a writer, Jamie is a musician. She has proven that an electric vehicle can have adequate storage. She has removed one of the back seats from her RAV to make room to carry everything she and her husband regularly need for gigs, including a complete PA system, multiple acoustic instruments, and an upright string bass.
TV stars Ed Begley and Rachelle Carson-Begley ride on sunlight. As a long-time champion of sustainability, Ed bought his first electric vehicle in 1970. Since 2002, Ed has been driving a Toyota RAV4 Electric Vehicle, which he charges with the solar power collected on his home’s roof. With over a 100-mile range, the RAV4 EV is perfect as the primary vehicle for Ed, his wife Rachelle, and their children. It is also large enough to carry all the home project materials and equipment used in their TV show. The couple also owns a Prius, which is handy for trips of hundreds of miles, and when he and his wife need a car at the same time. Ed also stays in shape with his other zero-emission vehicle – his bicycle.
You do not have to be famous to want an SUV that uses renewable energy instead of gasoline. Millions need a roomy vehicle and care about the future. Although dozens of new electric sedans, hatchbacks, and small urban cars are being introduced in the U.S., missing has been an SUV.
In Spring 2012, the new Toyota RAV4 EV can be ordered from dealers. Pricing has not yet been set. Tesla, in partnership with Toyota, is bringing back the popular Toyota RAV 4EV. The SUV will have a new electric drive system and use a Tesla battery pack of 5,500 Panasonic lithium nickel cells. Tesla has produced over 30 of the new RAV4 EV prototypes for test drives and extensive evaluation.
Tesla and Toyota CEOs Elon Muskand Akio Toyoda 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. Toyota is a 2 percent shareholder in Tesla.