Toyota Goes All In On the RAV4 EV

Toyota continues to posture itself for domination in the electric and hybrid market. Perhaps it’s part of their lateral, ‘appeal-to-them all’ marketing strategy, which seems to prioritize competition with a Chicago Dodge dealer just as much as prominent electric car manufacturers. The forthcoming release of the Toyota RAV4 onto the market promises to make considerable waves.

While details and advanced specifications are limited at this time, we do know that the second generation of the RAV4 EV is scheduled for a late 2012 release (with an initial limited rollout in the early part of the year that is being referred to as “phase one cars”). The new model will be utilizing Tesla Motors’ lithium metal oxide battery pack. This is according to a report that notes Toyota’s $100 million contract with its partner, which runs through 2014 and includes Tesla Motors providing electric powertrain parts. Tesla has been posturing itself as an EV technology powerhouse, which is probably good considering their only automotive offering at present time is a $60,000 Sedan.

First revealed at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, the new Toyota RAV4 EV was one of the 2011 Green Car Vision Award finalists, and, accordingly, will feature electric batteries, inverters, software, and motors. In a time when electric cars are more in demand than ever (Tesla Model S is already sold out), this model packs a 660-pound lithium-ion battery with 50 kWh and a 80-120 mile range.

The conversion to electric will not comprise the car’s performance, nor will it impede cargo room (the RAV4 will offer 73 cubic feet) or the elegance of the vehicle’s appearance. In fact, the exterior of the car will sport some updated features over the first generation, including a new front bumper, grille (a front fascia deal), head and fog lamps, and 18 inch alloy wheels. Additionally, the car will have a new tailgate sans the model’s traditional spare tire carrier. The interior also received a considerable revamp, featuring custom seat trim, multimedia dash displays and meters and push-button shifter.

Fifteen years after its initial release, the RAV4 EV will be Toyota’s third electric release, joining the Scion iQ and the Prius. These other two will also receive significant 2012 releases, including the Scion iQ EV and the Plug-in Prius. Catering to the public’s anxiety about high oil prices and global warming, Toyota stands to become a leader the electric and hybrid car market for years to come.

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