By on May 22, 2012

I should go on vacation more often. No, really. Last time I took some time off, I accidentally caught a parade of BMW prototypes descending the Sellajoch in Italy’s Dolomite Alps. Then, just weeks ago when I was in Los Angeles with Bertel, I was driving along towards Venice when I caught a glimpse of the tell-tale camouflage that makes every auto enthusiast’s heart skip a beat. And then I noticed that it had no tailpipe…

Of course, the vehicle I caught wasn’t anything earth-shattering, just a prototype of Toyota’s first-ever EV for the American market. And here in California, where electric RAV4s have been running around since 1997, this prototype didn’t exactly bring traffic to a halt. Still, it’s a reminder that even EV skeptics like Toyota are already dipping a toe in the battery-powered market… if only as a “compliance exercise.” Plus, it’s more evidence that my employers should give me more time to get away from the computer and drive around unfamiliar places. Obviously these prototypes want me to find them…

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12 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Where’s The Tailpipe? Edition...”

  • avatar

    Unless a car is “all-new” sending it out in the world draped in black tarp is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. Few people, I suspect, will notice the difference between this RAV4 and the one in the neighbor’s driveway. Toyota should have lost the camo and stuck on false exhaust pipes, maybe the ones from the Lexus IS-F. That would have set the interwebitubes aflame.

  • avatar

    I still find it a bit funny when I see all these test cars running around with MI M-plates, even when the company (-ies) developing them are all supposedly based in CA.

    Well, Toyota does have a tech center in AA, still….

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Well, whooped de do. BEVs are obsolete technology being pushed by politicians in the hope that we will forget after this fad has crashed and burned and they have unveiled their next shiny object.

  • avatar

    So Toyota felt compelled to drape a six year old RAV4 with the magic under the skin in black to hide…something?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, if there IS something under the camo, it makes sense they would hide it, but since none of us know what’s under it–because it’s, well, hid–we can’t say.

    • 0 avatar

      They are hiding the “new” front and end trimmings, that are different from the normal RAV4.3 (oddly enough 4.4 is an official platform generation, as I understand). It is a bit silly, considering that the majority of the cab carries over, but it’s the rule of the game to hide it.

  • avatar

    My understanding from something I read within the last week or so is that most of the EVs coming out, with the exception of the Leaf and a few others, but including the Focus EV, is not a matter of dipping the toe in the market, but of getting a small amount of EV credit towards meeting the Federal mileage standards.

    If anyone knows otherwise, let me know. But that sounds most logical to me. Anyone who thinks that EVs are going to be more than a tiny niche without some major, probably as yet unforeseen battery breakthrough, well,

    a bridge o’er to Brooklyn’s incredibly swell
    and to you, for just two thousand dollars, I’ll sell!

    • 0 avatar

      “something I read within the last week or so is that most of the EVs coming out, with the exception of the Leaf and a few others, but including the Focus EV, is not a matter of dipping the toe in the market, but of getting a small amount of EV credit towards meeting the Federal mileage standards.”

      California is moving toward a rather aggressive ZEV mandate. The automakers need to be (or at least appear to be) ready for it:

      If it goes as it did back when the EV1 roamed the jungle, then the automakers will use low EV sales as a reason to cut a new compromise deal with CARB. CARB’s tendency has been to set the bar high, then renegotiate when the market thumbs its nose at their ideas.

      Toyota also had a specific need to deal with the NUMMI plant in Fremont. My own theory is that TMC used the RAV4 deal in order to sell the plant to Tesla. I don’t know exactly what environmental hazards ran with the Fremont plant (although there should have been quite a few, given its long history as a production plant) or the extent to which TMC was liable for them, but a transfer of the real estate to Tesla should eliminate any liability that TMC might have for pollution at the site.

      TMC agreed to pay Tesla for the RAV4, but Tesla in turn agreed to pay most of that back in the form of the Fremont plant purchase. The RAV4 agreement, in turn, helped Tesla to secure DOE loans.

      If Tesla ultimately fails, then any remediation or cleanup that is required at the site will be irrelevant to either party, since one of them doesn’t own it and the other is in liquidation. If Tesla succeeds, then it will have been paid money to take a manufacturing plant, instead of having to pay to build one. It’s a win-win for both companies.

  • avatar

    I winder if it’ll still be running when it’s as old as the NOVA in front of it?


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