This is what it looked like yesterday when the wraps came off the production model of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Toyota's first battery electric vehicle in more than a decade.

The exposition hall at the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium is more likely to see displays of electric vehicle components than actual reveals, so the lighting wasn't the greatest.

But the crowd was thick and the interest level high as media and conferees swarmed the vehicle following a short presentation by Bob Carter, Toyota's group VP and general manager.

Following the formal presentation, we chatted with Carter, Tesla Motors chief technical officer JB Straubel, and RAV4 EV chief engineer and project leader Greg Bernass.

Here's a summary of a few more details that expand on yesterday's official 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV announcement:

  • The RAV4 EV will be available to retail buyers as well as fleets, and Toyota expects 90 percent of them to go to individual owners
  • It can be bought outright (for $49,800 before incentives) or leased, though Toyota hasn't yet released details of its leasing offer
  • Toyota is conscious of the risks of overpromising on range, so expects the EPA to rate the RAV4 EV's range at "close" to the stated 100 miles
  • The lithium-ion battery pack designed by Tesla Motors has 41.8 kilowatt-hours of capacity
  • The 10-kilowatt onboard charger is the same one that will be used in the 2012 Tesla Model S, but with a standard J-1772 port
  • Even after subtracting the combustion engine and transmission, the electric RAV4 is 470 pounds heavier than the V-6 version
  • When charging the car, drivers can select a "normal" mode that doesn't quite recharge the pack fully, or an "extended-range" mode that does (potentially at the cost of some pack life)
  • The Tesla-style drive selector buttons seen in the prototype have been replaced by the characteristic Prius "drive selector stick" on the tunnel
  • The RAV4 EV seen here will be sold in 2012, 2013, and 2014 even if the gasoline RAV4 is replaced with a newer model
  • Toyota has already been contacted by owners of its previous RAV4 EV who are interested in buying the new version

While Carter sidestepped the phrase “compliance car” in discussing the RAV4 EV, he said Toyota had three motivations in launching the car:

  • The RAV4 EV is a first attempt to explore the market for battery-electric vehicles;
  • It helps the company meet the California mandates and requirements for zero-emission vehicles; and
  • It will educate the public about electric vehicles.

What do you think of the Toyota RAV4 EV? Granted that no one has yet driven the final production version, has Toyota done a good job in creating the world's first modern all-electric crossover?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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