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RAV4 EV joins forces with Tesla

Toyota has joined forces with Tesla Motor Corporation in a unique collaboration in shared technology – particularly battery technology. The development project resulting from this alliance is the all-electric 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV – claimed to be the world’s most aerodynamic SUV. It is expected to achieve an average range of 100 miles from a full charge and can be completely recharged in about six hours with a 240V/40A charger.

According to Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, “The RAV4 EV’s driving performance, dynamics and cargo capacity are equal to or exceed the gas-powered RAV4 V6.” It arrives fully equipped (there are no options), with an MSRP of $49,800 and $810 for destination and handling.

Motive force is generated by an AC induction motor mounted up front, driving the front wheels with fixed-gear, open-differential trans-axle gear ratio of 9.73 with two drive modes: Normal and Sport. Power comes from a Lithium Ion battery pack (41.8 kWh) weighing just over 800 pounds, with 129 kW max power output/386V max voltage that produces zero emissions. Horsepower is rated at 154 (115kW) maximum, with pound feet of torque rated at 218 in Normal mode and 273 in Sport mode.

The RAV4 travels from 0 to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds in Sport mode and has a top track speed of 100 mph. The Normal model delivers a 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds, with a maximum top end of 85 mph. There are two charge modes: Standard and Extended. In the Standard mode, the battery charges up to 35 kWh, with an expected range rating of 92 miles. The Extended charge mode allows charging to the full capacity of 41.8 kWh, with a range of 113 miles.

A unique Toyota/Tesla-designed cooperative regenerative braking system serves to minimize the vehicle’s kinetic energy loss when slowing or stopping. At a 50-percent state of charge, the RAV4 can sit without charging for approximately one year, with no permanent loss of function. Should the battery pack become depleted, its 12-volt battery will allow the vehicle to turn on and shift to neutral.

SUMMARY: Driving the 2013 RAV4 EV is pretty much like piloting a conventional auto, except for the quietness of operation and the incredible level of torque off the line.

Acceleration is phenomenal from a standing start or when merging onto a freeway via a ramp. The steering felt a little numb initially, but it was actually very responsive. Overall, the handling borders on sporty, with the ride quality quite comfortable. Visibility is good, and the folding rear seat backs add functionality.

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