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Toyota’s electric RAV4 has 182km range

On a charge: Toyota’s all-electric RAV4 EV was a collaboration between the Japanese giant and California EV car-maker Tesla.

Big battery pack puts Toyota RAV4 EV in charge – but only in California


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3 Aug 2012

TOYOTA says its new California-only RAV4 EV can achieve an all-electric driving range of 182km on a full charge, about 12km further than the Nissan Leaf’s theoretical distance.

However, the specification sheet reveals the all-electric SUV is loaded with a 41.8kW/h lithium-ion battery pack, compared with the Leaf’s smaller, lighter and cheaper 24kW/h lithium-ion pack.

While the Leaf can be charged in seven hours using a household 240-volt 15amp outlet, Toyota says the new RAV4 EV that was presented to United States motoring media yesterday takes six hours, but on a more powerful 40amp socket.

The RAV4 EV, which is unlikely to be seen in Australia any time soon, is a collaboration between Toyota and Silicon Valley EV car-maker Tesla, which supplied the batteries and electric motor for the car that will go on sale through selected Californian dealers this month.

Just 2600 units are to be offered for sale between now and 2014.

Tesla’s own Tesla S sedan is said to achieve 260km on the standard 40kW/h battery and a whopping 370km on the extra-cost 60kW/h pack.

The front-wheel-drive RAV4 EV can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in a tick over seven seconds, making it faster than the V6 RAV4 offered in North America.

Powered by a 115kW electric motor under the bonnet, the RAV4 EV is said to be good for a 160km/h top speed.

The drive can select from two driving modes – Sport and Normal – with Normal easing off the power to save electricity and enhance range.

The RAV4 EV has two charge modes – Standard and Extended – with the former designed to enhance battery life, and the latter to maximise range when required.

In standard mode, the battery is charge up to 35kWh for a range of about 150km, while Extended fills it up to the maximum 41.8 kWh for a full 182km range.

The driving range can be further enhanced by controlling the air-conditioning and heating. The Normal mode draws the most power but delivers the most comfort, while Eco Lo cuts climate control electricity consumption by about 18 per cent by reducing blower and compressor forces, and Eco Hi slashes it by 40 per cent.

Owners can cut climate control battery drain further by pre-heating or pre-cooling their car while still charging, either by setting a timer on the navigation display or even activating it by smart phone.

The batteries are fitted under the floor of the vehicle towards the middle to optimise weight distribution, and also liquid cooled to overcome battery degradation problems reported in other EVs in hot climates.

The RAV4 EV dispenses with most of the usual air-cooling openings at the front of the vehicle, which, along with other aerodynamic aids such as under-floor panels, slices the RAV4 coefficient of drag from 0.35Cd to 0.30Cd.

Toyota engineering and manufacturing chief engineer Greg Bernas said the RAV4 EV project gave Toyota an opportunity to work with a leading Silicon Valley company and learn something along the way.

“Tesla brought their EV powertrain expertise and entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.

“We brought our customer-first focus and decades of production experience to the project.

“It wasn’t always an easy process, but I think we succeeded in blending our strengths and learning from one another.”

The project took just 22 months from conception to completed vehicle, which was revealed in May at the Californian Electric Vehicle Symposium.

The project was allegedly “spurred on” by Toyota president Akio Toyoda.

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