There was a rumor recently that Telsa had converted a new model of Toyota's popular RAV4 into an EV. Today, Toyota announced that Tesla will supply the drive train for a resurrected RAV4 EV, possibly to be built at the recently purchased NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA. This is the giant 5 million sq. ft. plant that was the subject of a fascinating story on This American Life in March.
This is really good news for the EV community since the RAV EV has been the most reliable EV from the ZEV mandate days of the late 90s and early 2000s. It also gives consumers a great option if what the family needs is a reasonably sized vehicle that can haul stuff. Both the Nissan Leaf and GM Chevy Volt are great cars, but there is clearly a market for SUVs out there.
Here we are taking possession of our brand new RAV on winter solstice, 2002.
Our experience with the RAV has been nothing short of amazing. The car just works. Other than replacing the shocks at 60K miles, and consumables like tires, aux batteries and wiper blades, there has been virtually no maintenance or parts in 8 years and 84,000 miles.
Some RAV drivers have had their battery packs replaced, but they averaged about 120,000-130,000 miles before doing so.
I can't tell you how many times I've plugged my car in at a public charger and had people engage me in a long conversation about what this vehicle means to society and then express the burning desire to get one just like it. It's happened hundreds of times over the years and each time, I had to tell them, nope, can't do it, they destroyed hundreds of them, and the remaining 800 or so RAV EVs are all there would ever be.
Now I can tell them to wait a year or so and they'll not only be able to buy a RAV EV, but it'll be powered by a Tesla drive train with, we can assume, a LiIon battery pack. We don't know pricing or performance specs, all that will come in due time, but the importance of this announcement is that Toyota is getting back in the EV game. We'll have to update Plug In America's vehicle tracker page to list this popular model.
This leaves Honda as the lone hold out. They are still claiming their Clarity fuel cell vehicle is the end game of alt-fuel vehicles. But as more and more EVs are announced for delivery in the next two years, it seems as the game might end with fuel cell vehicles forever in the on-deck circle, never getting a chance to step up to the plate and bat.