BREAKING: The RAV4 EV Is Returning, Tesla, Toyota Confirms

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Toyota RAV4 facelift for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show

Toyota RAV4 facelift for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show

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Remember yesterday's article where we spoke about rumbles from the rumor mill at Toyota and Tesla? Industry insiders had told two auto sites that the two companies were working together on a supercar and a re-development of the classic RAV4 EV.

We said yesterday that the possibility of the RAV4 being reborn as an EV really excited us, but that we'd just have to wait for formal confirmation to decide if it was a rumor or reality.

Someone at Tesla must have heard us.

Toyota RAV4e electric vehicle, San Francisco, March 2010

Toyota RAV4e electric vehicle, San Francisco, March 2010

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Minutes ago, Toyota and Tesla confirmed that the two companies plan to build a fleet of prototype electric SUVs.

The SUV in question will be a fully electrified version of Toyota's 2012 RAV4, married with a Tesla-developed drivetrain and battery system.

At the moment Toyota do not make any all-electric vehicles but have been market leaders for a decade with hybrid drivetrains thanks to its Prius hatchback.

The last all-electric Toyota produced by the company rolled off the production line in 2003. It was an all-electric RAV4, known as the RAV4EV.

Many examples of the car exist today. Some have as many as 200,000 miles on the clock and are used by lucky owners across the U.S. as daily drivers. The original RAV4 EVs are a testament to Toyota's previous electric car engineering prowess, and most are extremely reliable some seven years after the car ceased production.

Used examples of the 1997-2003 RAV4EV still fetch anything upwards of $40,000 on Internet auction site ebay, although we're pretty sure that price will drop rather quickly when news of the Tesla-Toyota RAV4 spreads.

Tesla also confirmed in its press release that it has already converted one RAV4 to electric and will work with Toyota to bring it to market by 2012.

Toyota RAV4e electric vehicle, San Francisco, March 2010

Toyota RAV4e electric vehicle, San Francisco, March 2010

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Price has yet to be confirmed, but yesterday's unconfirmed reports pegged the crossover electric SUV as being somewhere in the $40,000 price range.

This is fantastic news for anyone looking to buy an EV over the next few years and represents the first production electric car in the sports utility crossover class.

At the moment, the only highway electric vehicle on sale in the U.S. is the Tesla Roadster, which retails for $109,000.

Later on this year, both the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt will be launched. However, both of these cars are hatchbacks and do not directly compete with either the Tesla Roadster or the newly confirmed RAV4 EV.

There's no news too about the warranty Toyota and Tesla plan to offer on the car, but expect any vehicle combining Tesla's electric vehicle drivetrain with Toyota's legendary build quality to be a fantastic drive.

As we said yesterday, any car that can reproduce the success, reliability and practicality  of Toyota’s original RAV4EV surely has a market-leading position.
It's always nice when things we hear get confirmed, but we want to know one thing. When can we test-drive one?
[Tesla]

 
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