THE ROAD TO THE SECOND GENERATION RAV4 EV
TOYOTA'S LONG HISTORY OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE DEVELOPMENT
Toyota engineers have been studying electric vehicles (EVs) for nearly 40 years and became seriously engaged in developing the technology as far back as 1971. Since that time, Toyota has made enormous strides in creating a consumer- and environmentally-friendly electric vehicle. To date, Toyota has developed the TownAce EV (van) and the Crown Majesta EV (sedan) in the Japanese market, the Toyota e-com, a two passenger concept EV, and two generations of the RAV4 EV in the U.S. market. Alongside the company's ground-breaking hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, EV technology represents a core component of the company's long-term vision for sustainable mobility.
TOYOTA'S RAV4 EV
By 1995, Toyota was deeply engaged in an effort to bring a viable RAV4 EV to market. In fact, the first prototype of the vehicle won the Scandinavian Electric Car Rally in August of that year. This same year, the company first began placing prototype RAV4 EVs with institutions around California, including Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Toyota also gave a number of the vehicles to Toyota Technical Center (TTC), the company's North American research facility.
Toyota deepened its commitment to refining electric vehicle technology in January 1996 when it launched the first stage of its zero-emission vehicle initiative, an in-depth, on-the-road monitor test program featuring two-door RAV4 EV prototypes. This program placed vehicles at additional utility companies around the country as well as at Toyota's own test facilities in Arizona and Michigan. In April 1996, Toyota showed a prototype of the RAV4 EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show and allowed participants to test drive the latest version.
In December 1996, Toyota introduced the first generation of the RAV4 EV, a four-door version, and, in the fall of 1997, announced the second stage of the company's zero-emission vehicle initiative. This second stage marked the first time that Toyota made RAV4 EVs available for sale, first offering the vehicle to fleet buyers. In November 1997, the first U.S. fleet RAV4 EV was delivered to Southern California Edison. Toyota also became the first manufacturer to meet the California Memorandum of Agreement between automakers and the California Air Resources Board with the delivery of 322 EVs in the fall of 1998.
In August 2001, Toyota made the decision to sell and lease the RAV4 EV to retail customers in California, and in February 2002, RAV4 EVs were available for sale to these customers through an internet-based purchasing system. During the time the RAV4 EV was available for sale through early 2003, they were the only full-functioning electric vehicle available to retail customers in the U.S.
Toyota's first generation RAV4 EV was the culmination of what Toyota had learned over the past 40 years to address some of the most common challenges faced by EVs. To increase the vehicle's range, for example, Toyota created a light and compact drivetrain that is designed to boost battery efficiency while minimizing power loss.
Additionally, a regenerative braking system allowed the RAV4 EV to recover the vehicle's kinetic energy during deceleration, which it turned into electricity to replenish the batteries. These advances helped the RAV4 EV achieve one of the best cruising ranges of any EV in the world – more than 120 miles (200 km) on a single charge in tests.
When it was first introduced to retail customers, the first generation RAV4 EV was available for purchase or lease of a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, featuring pre-paid maintenance and Roadside Assistance, as well as a 5yr/60,000 mile main battery and powertrain warranty. After federal and state government incentives, the RAV4 EV could be purchased for approximately $30,000 or leased for about $329 to $429 per month, depending on the lease program, with a $1,000 down payment.
|Lease Program||Lease Price||After Incentives|
THE TOYOTA E-COM
The Toyota e-com is a concept car that was unveiled at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. It is a compact, two-passenger vehicle that shares much of its EV technology and power components with the larger RAV4 EV. It produces no emissions and can run for approximately 60 miles on a single charging, with a maximum speed of around 62 mph. The e-com can be charged using household 110V household current, making it ideal as an urban fleet vehicle, rental car, or transportation around resorts or environmentally sensitive areas.
By 2000, Toyota had a fleet of 30 e-coms in use at the company's headquarters at Toyota City in Japan, and an additional 20 were rented to the Tama New Town experimental community transportation project near Tokyo. In the U.S., the e-com became part of a demonstration at the University of California at Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center on the shared use of electric cars.
TOYOTA'S EV TIMELINE
- RAV4 EV prototype (nickel metal hydride) wins Scandinavian Electric Car Rally.
- RAV4 EV prototype (lead acid) test fleet rolled out in the United States. Vehicles placed with Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas and Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District and TTC.
- Toyota announces launch of its zero-emission vehicle program, an in-depth, on-the-road monitor test program with two-door RAV4 EV prototypes. Vehicles used by utility companies in California and New York, and Toyota test facilities in Arizona and Michigan.
- RAV4 EV prototype (nickel metal hydride) shown at Alternative Fuel Vehicles/EcoExpo at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Ride and drives of the RAV4 EV are offered.
- Two-door RAV4 EV prototype (nickel metal hydride) goes on sale in certain regions in Japan.
- Toyota announces the all-new first generation Toyota RAV4 EV (four-door, nickel metal hydride).
- e-com debuts at the Tokyo Auto Show.
- RAV4 EV is made available to fleet buyers. Initial customers include Southern California Edison, Georgia Power and Light, and New York's Consolidated Edison.
- First U.S. RAV4 EV fleet delivered to Southern California Edison.
- Toyota becomes the first manufacturer to meet the California Memorandum of Agreement with the California Air Resources Board by delivering the quota of 322 EVs.
- Toyota has 50 e-coms in use in Japan: 30 at Toyota City and 20 at the Tama New Town experimental community transportation project.
- The e-com is part of a demonstration the University of California at Irvine's National Fuel Cell Research Center of the shared use of electric cars.
- Decision is made to begin retail sales of RAV4 EV in California.
- Toyota announces widespread network of 25 dealers in California that would deliver and service RAV4 EVs for retail customers.
- Launch of Toyota internet-based purchase request system for customers interested in ordering the RAV4 EV, supported by a targeted multimedia marketing campaign in nine cities.
- RAV4 EV production ends.
- RAV4 EV customer care letter issued informing owners that Toyota would keep serviceable vehicles on the road for as long as the vehicles were reliable and practical.