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Stealthy Combo Tesla + Toyota Sneak Out a Surprise: the RAV4 EV!

I once hosted a booth at an eco festival – just like this one – flanked by one of the original RAV4 electric vehicles, Plug-in America’s Marc Geller’s.

All day I was besieged by throngs of moms trailing sandy-footed children dripping icecream, urgently asking “Ooooh!!! Can we get the RAV4 EV again?” “Is the EV version for SALE again??? It’s perfect for me!” “I need this EV!”  “What ever possessed Toyota to stop making the electric version?”


I had never experienced a consumer frenzy like it. Now admittedly, this was an eco fair, and this was an electric vehicle: but none of the other eco products generated this response.

Surely Toyota is aware of this fan base, so I have never understood why Toyota abandoned it. California’s mandates in the 90’s forced it to reluctantly give birth to the electric RAV4, and now, according to Electrovelocity it is California that has just delivered it back to Toyota again.

To the great astonishment of everyone in the EV world, Elon Musk of Tesla just delivered a new RAV4 electric vehicle prototype to Toyota on Friday.

Not a hint preceded it. Indeed, both companies suggested that Toyota’s investment in Tesla would NOT generate any collaboration, or new shared electric vehicle development.

It and the other electric vehicle prototype that Tesla delivered, (a Lexus RX) are both tough SUVs capable of carrying the weight of the lithium-ion battery packs without any changes or strengthening in the suspension or chassis.

Toyota is now said to be aiming to sell the RAV 4 version for around $40,000 initially, with a 150 mile range, in 2012. Even second hand RAV4 EVs were selling on eBay in that price range (and up to $60,000!) so the reissue makes sense.

And a Corolla version is planned. Sensible, obvious moves. I wonder why everyone was so taken by surprise.

Image: The Creative Greenius (at a different eco fair)

Susan Kraemer @Twitter

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Written By

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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