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Toyota introduces electric RAV4 SUV, starting at $49,800

Consumer Reports News: May 08, 2012 03:08 PM

If the Toyota Prius plug-in is not electric enough for you, soon you'll be able to have a pure-electric Toyota RAV4. Toyota has been developing an electric RAV4 for years, starting with the first-generation RAV4. And at the 2010 LA Auto Show, Toyota announced its intent to build a production version. On Monday, the production RAV4 EV was unveiled at EVS26 (26th-annual Electric Vehicle Symposium) in Los Angeles.

The sticker price before any EV incentives is $49,800. It will be available this summer in five California metropolitan areas.

The electric RAV4 was developed through a partnership between Toyota and Tesla, an electric-car company that has made a name for itself with battery drive technology. The RAV4's 470-pound Tesla battery packs a hefty 41.8 kWh and is stashed low enough that it actually lowers the SUV's center of gravity, Toyota says. Range is claimed to be 100 miles on a full charge.

2013-Toyota-RAV4-EV-EVS26-r.jpgIn other respects, the RAV4 remains familiar, with seating for five and undiminished cargo volume. Drive wheels are front only; AWD will not be offered. Performance is said to be on par with the RAV4 V6, with a zero-to-60 mph sprint time of seven seconds. (Our 2007 RAV4 V6 AWD galloped up to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.)

Toyota says charging time will be four hours using a 240-volt charger, which is quick compared with other EVs currently available. Toyota plans to sell 2,600 units over the next three years. It'll be built in Canada alongside regular RAV4s. Meanwhile, a redesigned RAV4 is expected this fall. The EV version will be based on the outgoing, current model and will be sold concurrently with the redesign.

The electric RAV's nearly $50,000 sticker price will provoke some sticker shock, so to speak, but it is somewhat mitigated by a $7,500 federal tax credit and a further $2,500 incentive from the state of California. That said, the RAV EV is the only electric SUV from a major manufacturer. Converted versions of the Mercedes ML and Jeep Grand Cherokee from Ohio-based AMP are also available but at a much higher price.

Price aside, it's good to see an electric utility vehicle that's not a glorified golf cart but a fully functional SUV.

See more pictures of the new RAV4 EV.

See our guide to fuel economy and guide to alternative fuels.

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We drive the first Chinese car expected in the U.S., the electric BYD e6
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Gabe Shenhar

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