It’s no secret that Toyota invested heavily in Tesla for their electric propulsion and battery management technology. The first product of this arranged marriage appears to be a battery powered RAV-4, set to debut as a prototype at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Using existing drivetrain, battery and power management technology from Tesla enabled Toyota to build a functional prototype RAV-4 EV in a remarkably short time, given that the deal between the two automakers was signed less than four months ago. It’s likely that Toyota will be able to begin sales of the electric SUV in late 2011 as a 2012 model, but no details are available on drivetrain (FWD or AWD), performance or vehicle range. When the RAV-4 EV project was announced, Elon Musk assured investors that the product would surpass other vehicles in its class in range and acceleration. Since I’m not aware of any other battery powered compact SUVs on the market today, Musk’s statement was a pretty safe bet.
The Toyotasla (Teslota?) RAV-4 EV will be one of two EVs expected to hit Toyota showrooms as a 2012 model. If Autoevolution is correct, the battery powered RAV-4 will be sold alongside a plug in hybrid version of Toyota’s Prius.