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USA: Toyota to unveil specs of game changing electric SUV, the RAV4 EV

The new Toyota RAV4 EV is the result of the Tesla-Toyota partnership, features a Tesla-provided electric drive train, and is an all-electric SUV built on a RAV4 chassis, manufactured by Toyota, specifications to be unveiled next week, and launch expected in July 2012.

Two years ago Toyota and Tesla excited the electric vehicle scene by announcing a partnership which saw Toyota joining Daimler in investing in Tesla, Toyota selling a disused factory to Tesla (the former NUMMI plant in Fremont), and agreed to work with Tesla on resurrecting the Toyota RAV4 EV. Today Toyota announced that the new RAV4 EV would be unveiled at the EVS26 conference next week, putting the company on track to fulfill its promise of shipping the electric SUV in July 2012. EVS26 is the big kahuna electric vehicle symposium featuring speakers and participants from all over the world.

The Toyota RAV4 EV is an all-electric version of Toyota’s popular RAV4 SUV. Instead of a gasoline powered drive train, it sports an electric drive train built on parts supplied by Tesla Motors.

The RAV4 EV has a long history in the electric vehicle scene. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, during the period when California’s ZEV Mandate had teeth, the first RAV4 EV was Toyota’s answer to that mandate. It was essentially a conversion vehicle, a thousand or so of which were built by Toyota engineers. For its time it had some amazing characteristics. This included a Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery pack (NiMH), highly advanced for its time, allowing that electric SUV to have well over 100 miles of driving range, and it played a bit part in the movie, Who Killed The Electric Car. While Toyota did move to retrieve and crush those RAV4 EV’s when the ZEV Mandate was gutted, the DontCrush campaign successfully rescued hundreds of the cars, most of which are still on the road today.

Unfortunately we won’t know the specifications of the new RAV4 EV until next week, but a few bits of information are known.
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