While BMWs all-electric i3 has yet to hit the street, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. is poised to roll-out its all-new, all-electric 2012 RAV4 EV through select California dealers--mostly in major metropolitan markets--the week of September 24.
The vehicle, which has an EPA-rated range of 78 city miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), 74 highway MPGe and 76 combined MPGe and a manufacturers suggested retail price of $49,800, doesnt have an ounce of carbon fiber in, on, or around it.
Carbon fiber is not featured anywhere on the vehicle, Sheldon Brown, assistant chief engineer for the Rav4 EV, told Inner Circle. The EV technology brings with it many cost challenges in and of itself, he said. The idea of adding exotic materials like carbon fiber did not show a lot of promise when examined for the cost/benefit comparison.
Instead, traditional steel materials are used throughout the 2012 RAV4 EVs body. Aluminum was adopted as the primary material for most of the EV specific parts such as the motor housing, charger housing and most notable, the battery carrier side sills and structural box, Brown said. The floor and top enclosure are steel, he added.
The front-wheel drive RAV4 EV, an outgrowth of a collaboration pairing Toyota and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motors, combines a Tesla-designed and produced battery and electric powertrain with Toyotas most popular SUV model. The vehicle is being built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC) in Woodstock, Ontario on the same line as the gasoline-powered RAV4. Toyota previously announced it would pay Tesla about $100 million to supply the electric powertrain, which includes the battery, motor, gear box and power electronics for RAV4 EV.
Sales volume for the RAV4 EV is planned for about 2,600 units through 2014, Tokyota said. The vehicle is expected to qualify for a $2,500 rebate through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program in California and is also said to be eligible for a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit.
We believe that the RAV4 will attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius, Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, commented on the all-electric SUVs sales prospects in a statement released in early August. Its designed for consumers who prioritize the environment and appreciate performance. We look forward to seeing how the market responds.