Toyota Prices RAV4 EV at $49,800, Dials Down Regen Braking

By · May 09, 2012

On Monday, Toyota revealed the production version of its RAV4 EV at the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, California. We now know that the new RAV4 EV, featuring a powertrain co-developed by Tesla Motors, will sell fully-equipped for $49,800. (The RAV4 EV will qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.) The other key metric is 2,600, as in the number of units Toyota will produce over the next three years—likely meaning a lot more demand than supply for the only all-electric SUV on the market.

RAV4 EV

At this stage, it should come as no surprise that Toyota is taking a conservative approach to electric car introductions, openly stating that the company wants to see how the EV market develops over time. And until then, it will produce only sufficient numbers to analyze the technology and comply with California zero-emissions mandates.

These tepid production numbers are matched by its handling of regenerative braking on the vehicle. Here's what I wrote a little more than a year ago when I drove not the production model just revealed, but an earlier prototype that still contained more Tesla DNA:

“The regenerative braking is as aggressive as any I’ve experienced. Let off the go-pedal while traveling at a clip of 40 mph or so, and you’re pulled down to about 5 mph in a matter of seconds...The engineers have the regen cranked up to the max.

“Now the bad news: Don’t expect that amount of regen or acceleration on the production version. “We’re going to have a much more sophisticated, engineered, and tailored system in place,” Brown said. I suspect that means tuning out the Tesla-ness, and dialing up Toyota’s signature Middle America smooth and steady vehicle personality… Expect the brake feel and the launching off the line to become more suited to a five-door-SUV from Toyota, rather than a two-door Roadster with Musk-like bravado.”

Toyota did not grant rides of the production RAV4 EV, in the ride-and-drive program at EVS26 in Los Angeles this week—but confirmed that the regen braking has indeed been dialed way down to provide a driving experience more familiar to Toyota customers.

On the other hand, it appears that some level of Tesla-ish performance has been preserved. Toyota says the performance and handling of the electric RAV4 will match that of the most powerful gasoline RAV4 model, equipped with a V-6 engine. In Normal mode, it takes 8.6 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, and top speed is 85 mph. In Sport mode, the 0-to-60-mph time is cut to 7.0 seconds, and top speed jumps to 100 mph.

RAV4 EV rear

The RAV4 EV will go on sale in late summer 2012 initially through select dealers in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The electric SUV will be built at Toyota's factory in Woodtsock, Ontario. Three exterior color choices will be offered: Blizzard White Pearl, Shoreline Blue Pearl and Classic Silver Metallic.

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