By on August 3, 2012

 

With California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate looming it is only a matter of time till we see an EV from each of the major players in the California market. Nissan has the Leaf, BMW has the Active E, GM has the Volt and Honda electrified a Fit and Ford has electrified everything that isn’t nailed down. That brings us to the elephant in the room: Toyota. To give us some insight into Toyota’s CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliance plans and to see the fruits of the unlikely Toyota/Tesla marriage, Toyota flew us to sunny Southern California to sample the 2013 RAV4 EV.

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Toyota tells us the RAV4 was selected for the same reason they electrified the old RAV4 back in 1997, the platform was able to handle the weight of the drivetrain without much modification. Essentially what we have on the outside of the RAV4EV then is the body of a RAV4 V6 with different bumper covers, headlamps and a new rear spoiler. The overall look is simple, clean and perfectly normal compared to the Nissan LEAF’s bubbly sheetmetal. During our time with the RAV4 EV no heads turned, nobody pointed and smiled. This truly is the sleeper EV.

The changes made to the RAV4 for EV duty are all “additive” meaning it runs on the same production line as the V6 and simply has additional things bolted on like extra reinforcements, mounting bars for the EV drivetrain, etc. These minimal changes seem logical when you consider that Toyota is hedging their bet in the EV game by working with Tesla to get the RAV4 EV to market in around 20 months while at the same time developing the iQ EV completely in-house.

Interior

The inside of the RAV4 EV is pure mid-market CUV, right from the hard plastic dash to the chunky leather steering wheel and the well placed Big-Gulp holders. To make EV owners feel special, Toyota changed the seating surfaces to SofTex (a faux-leather) with a honeycomb weave fabric insert, borrowed the Prius’ electronic shifter, extended the size of the seat heating zones and installed an all-new gauge cluster and infotainment system. Because the batteries are located completely under the RAV4 EV, the seating positions are unchanged and the rear seats retain their reclining feature as well as their fold-flat ability. With the seats duly folded cargo room grows from a standard 37 cubes to an impressive 73 cubes. Should that not be enough storage for you, the under-floor cargo “cubbies” haven’t been converted to batteries. As you would expect, Toyota ditched the power driver’s seat due to weight considerations so be sure you’re happy with the seat height before you buy.

Toyota chose the RAV4 EV as a sort of production “test bed” for technologies that will eventually trickle down to other products if they aren’t vilified by the press if the public takes to them. The first change is a new climate control interface that ditches the majority of the physical buttons for a (nearly) seamless touch sensitive panel. I’m not sure if I like the lack of haptic feedback on these systems, but Toyota tempers this with a snazzy high-res LCD for climate information.

Infotainment

Toyota seems to be in a “button minimalism” binge lately and nowhere is that more obvious than on the new 8-inch Entune radio in the photo above. Want to guess how you adjust the volume or change tracks? We needed Toyota engineer to show us as well. Thankfully the intuitive steering wheel controls remain unchanged.

The new 8-inch system is very responsive and builds on Toyota’s last generation of Entune products. In addition to the larger screen, the graphics and touch screen have been improved, allowing you to drag the map and volume slider and not “clicking” it. In terms of size, the 8-inch screen puts Toyota just behind Chrysler’s 8.4 inch UConnect system. In terms of functionality, this generation Entune system comes a close second to Ford’s MyFordTouch system now that Toyota has integrated voice command of your USB/iDevice music player.

Drivetrain

Under the hood of the RAV4 EV you will find the reason we hopped on a 45 minute flight: the motor from a Tesla Model S. Say what? Yep, the development timeline on the RAV4 EV was able to be so short partly because Toyota worked on the car in parallel with Tesla working on the drivetrain, but also because the RAV4 is using “off the shelf” Tesla parts under the hood.  Wait! The Model S produces 362HP and 325 lb-ft and the RAV4EV is rated for 154HP and 273 lb-ft. What gives? The simple answer is of course: would you want 362HP in a FWD SUV? No, I didn’t think so.

The more complex answer is that while the motor could put out more power, the battery pack and DC/DC converter in the RAV4 isn’t designed to provide that kind of sustained output. In addition to the motor sharing, the RAV4′s charger and DC conversion circuitry are essentially the same unit as the Model S but adapted to the RAV4. Likewise the single speed transmission is very similar but the gearset was redesigned for a front mounted, FWD arrangement. As it is, the system has to keep the torque controlled when starting, so you don’t peel out every time, to that end torque is normally restricted to 218  lb-ft unless you select the Sport mode that allows access to all 273 (and raised the top speed limiter to 100MPH.)

Part of the reason the RAV4 was selected was the popularity of CUVs, the other reason was the ground clearance and chassis design of the RAV4 made fitting the 41.8kWh battery pack (slightly larger than the base Model S) a “bolt-on” affair. While the pack is not the same one used in a Tesla model, as with the other systems the D-cell sized batteries that make up the pack are produced by Panasonic.

Drive

Out on the road, the RAV4 EV drives like a quiet RAV4 V6 with a CVT, thanks to the constantly available torque. Don’t let the horsepower deficit deceive you, 0-60 happens in 6.8 seconds in Sport mode and about a second longer in the torque-reducing normal mode. This is essentially the same as the 269HP RAV4 V6, and quite fast for an EV of any description.

With this kind of forward thrust, FWD and low rolling resistance rubber, torque steer is present, fairly well controlled and strangely entertaining. Front-drive hoons will weep, sadly Toyota seems to have done an excellent job with the traction control system limiting one-wheel-peel to full-throttle turns only.

The big news for the RAV4 EV is: there’s not much to say. While most EVs drive like underpowered vehicles with strangely little off-the-line thrust, plenty of motor whine, grabby regenerative braking and peculiar throttle mapping, the RAV4 EV just drives like a fairly powerful mid-market CUV.

Charging

Like all EVs, charging is the biggest limiting factor for most owners rather than absolute range. Depending on how you drive the RAV4 and whether you are using the heater or the A/C, you can expect between 65 and 120 miles out of your electric crossover before you have to plug it in. With a 41.8kWh battey and a 10kW charger on board, charging your EV is more complicated than with the Nissan LEAF. Why’s that? Let’s dig in.

When the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt came on the scene two years ago there was a veritable renaissance in the public EV charging network. Prior to these two volume players (and prior to the J1772 standard) EV charging stations were few, far-between and an odd mishmash of 120V plugs, Avcon connectors and various incompatible inductive paddles.

Two years later and California has been united with one plug to rule them all, except that the majority of these charging stations seem to be designed to support a maximum charge rate of 6.6kWh with a fairly large share of 3.3kWh chargers. As a result, plugging your RAV4 EV’s 9.6kW charger into one of these stations would result in charging times that are much longer than the quoted 5-6 hours. Toyota tells us charging time brakes down like this: a full charge at 9.6kW takes 5-6 hours from empty, 7.2kW 8 hours, 6.6kW 9 hours, 3.8kW 15 hrs and should you only have your 120V “emergency cord” handy, the 1.4kW charge will take 52 hours. Ouch.

Like most EVs, don’t even think about buying a RAV4 EV unless you’re also buying a home charging station to plug it in. Toyota’s partner Leviton will sell and install one for $1,500 (not including permits), but you might want to explore that further before you buy an EV, especially if you live in an older home. Be sure to also check with your utility company to see if you qualify for lower “EV rates” or you may see your electric bill rise much higher than you’d think due to those pesky “baseline” charges in California.

If you’re thinking about upgrading from your LEAF to a RAV4 EV, just remember that in addition to your home charging likely being undersized and needing to be replaced, Toyota decided not to support the CHAdeMO DC fast charging standard. Two years ago when the RAV4 started development there was no national standard and there were no CHAdeMO stations in the country so the engineers decided to skip DC charge support until there was a standard. Since there are now (finally) several stations in the Bay Area and a number sprouting up in Southern California, SAE standards aside, it would seem the DC charging standard has been decided but this generation of RAV4 decided to skip the party. Charge convenience aside, you should know that DC quick charging is hard on a battery so if you want your RAV4 to last, then this isn’t really an issue.

Price

If you are between 45 and 65, married, a two car family and have plenty of expendable income, then this RAV’s for you. If you’re outside this demographic, the $49,800 MSRP will cause some serious sticker shock. Since the RAV4 EV comes only one way (fully loaded) and there are only 2,600 going to be built over three years, you’re not only paying for the extremely expensive drivetrain, but for the scarcity of the vehicle. While Toyota would not comment officially or unofficially on the cost of the drivetrain, I detected a “spot on” glance from one of our minders when I surmised that the EV components, excluding R&D costs was somewhere uncomfortably close to the entire $49,800 sticker price of the RAV4 EV. If you choose to think you’re getting a deal, good for you. For the rest of you: lease the EV so you don’t have to worry about little things like battery degradation. Yes there is a California rebate of $2,500 available and a $7,500 tax credit, but depending on your tax situation the IRS may not give you much back. One possible justification for spending about $25,000 more on the EV than the four-cylinder RAV4 is California’s “permanent” carpool access stickers. On my daily commute using the carpool lane solo saved me 30 minutes a day. How much is that worth to you? Your answer needs to be: more than $25,000.

Who is it for?

Excellent question dear reader. As we said, Toyota is targeting a married, affluent demographic in California. To me, this makes some sort of sense. There is just one problem, it seems to me that Toyota and Tesla are fishing in the same, very small, pond with the Model S at $57,400 and the RAV4 EV at $49,800. Either way, if you want some Tesla love on the cheap, the RAV4 EV is the cheaper option.

Why should I care? I’m not buying an EV.

Toyota is using the RAV4 EV as publicly available test vehicle in some ways. How well does this relationship with Tesla go? How does Tesla handle the supply, assembly and warranty side of the RAV4 EV? How do people like the new Entune system? What do real-world EV owners think of the product? All these questions are why the RAV4 EV exists. BUT, CARB’s ZEV mandate is the reason Toyota is willing to lose plenty of cash to answer them. The RAV4 is a large step in the right direction for the EV niche as it is a perfectly practical, perfectly normal feeling CUV. While 99.9% of readers will never end up with one, you’ll likely benefit from what is learned in this process.

Toyota flew me to Newport Beach, fed me a snazzy dinner and a meat-free continental breakfast for this review. Not a fan of our Facebook page? Too bad, if you liked us on FaceBook you’d know what we have on the front burner. Get on, get social and tell us what you want to see. Subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re at it.

 

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44 Comments on “Pre-Production Review: 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV...”


  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    CARB will repeal its ZEV mandate just as it did several years ago. Until the “Battery from God” arrives, EVs have a very narrow market outside Hollywood and San Fransisco.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Darkhorse,

      At this time I don’t think CA is likely to pull back on the ZEV mandate and here’s why: the current mandate is weaksauce, so why bother?

      Because of the credit system and the exact way CARB counts the supposed “million ZEVs” Nissan is sitting pretty and should be fine by the deadline. GM has 57,285 credits banked from before 2010 due to the EV1 (good for 4 years of GM sales at the moment)and starting in 2013 the Volt will be earning “credit.” Small volume makers are treated differently so Jaguar/Land Rover and Volvo are likely OK. Toyota’s efforts with the plug-in Prius, iQ EV and RAV4 EV will likely keep them in compliance and Ford’s probably going to be OK with their plug-in family and the EV Focus. Of course Tesla, CODA and any other EV maker can, and will, sell their credits.

      Remember that come 2018, only 6,000 EVs will need to be sold yearly in CA for the industry to comply as a whole.

      Talk about selling a load of goods?

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        they will have to kidnap people from the streets, and hold them for ransom to find that many buyers.

        BTW, I just read that California has banned electric panels of more than 200 amps from new construction. Good luck on charging your car on the same nights as you have to do laundry.

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        Robert, not sure where you heard that we just installed a 400A service at home last month. I called the county planner in response to your comment and they said they had no idea where that rumor is coming from. They said they are under pressure to streamline approvals for service upgrades.

        Since the Leaf has sold more than 6,000 in 12 months in CA I’m not sure what you mean? 6,000 in the largest new car market in the USA is a very small number.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        The “rumor” is coming from syndicated blog sites and radio talk shows where Big Oil has money on the board.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Sorry but I don’t see any benefit to anyone here. In fact, this is a great example of how wrong-headed, ignorant regulation can create a net loss for everyone.

    Electricity is expensive in California. Various penalties and so on are already shifting to the power mix to expensive “renewable” sources. So now the government creates a further mandate that the power grid support the operation of automobiles. And this is going to do what to the price of electricity, boys and girls?

    Oh, I forgot, the benefit of this car is the permanent right to use the “HOV” lanes on the congested freeways, which is kind of perverse, since the idea of HOV lanes is to decrease congestion by increasing vehicle occupancy. As with so much of California’s regulation, what this really does is benefit a handful of rich folks who can afford to spend $50,000 on a Toyota trucklet which can never be more than a second car, since there are no highways with charging stations at 100 mile intervals, even in California.

    There seems to be a lot of “net loss” happening in California, these days: a net loss of population, a big net loss of jobs (the state’s unemployment rate is something like 4th highest), a net loss of fiscal solvency (increasing numbers of California cities going bankrupt, like the city of Stockton, which paid its 52 year old police chief a $200,000+ pension after less than a year of service) and so on.

    “Sustainable” has an economic as well as an environmental meaning, and California is increasingly not sustainable.

    The mandate that is the cause of this car being produced is part of the reason why.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Environmentalism is all about returning the middle class to serfdom. Today’s rights are tomorrow’s privileges of the elite. Plenty of people overestimate their status, even as they allow their children to be brainwashed into soldiers in the war on the middle class. Whenever you hear someone use the word sustainability you should understand that the first building block in their sustainable pyramid is a Malthusian reduction of the global population, just like the progressives of the past century.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        That’s a pretty ugly, self-serving, and overly-broad brush you are painting with. Like every other political focus or group, environmentalism encompasses a wide range of opinion and degree.

        There is, however, an unavoidable irony & hypocrisy in any American calling himself an environmentalist. I remember calculating my ecological footprint in college. If everyone on earth consumed resources at my rate back then, we’d need several more planets. Now I have a real income and can guarantee my consumption is WAY higher.

        So, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a voluntary multi-generational reduction in global population. I like driving everywhere in my car, but freeways are choked and I have a harder time getting away from people in the backcountry than even 10-15 years ago. With fewer people, I can have my selfish cake and eat it too!

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        Fetch: you first.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Schwartz,
        Me first in implementing “a voluntary multi-generational reduction in global population”? Already covered on that one. What else ya got?

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @CJinSD:
        You are correct. Environmentalism and worldwide ‘family planning’ (i.e., abortion) always, always, always go hand in hand. This is because Man is considered to be the enemy of the Earth, rather than the solution to its problems. Of course, the population reduction is always directed at others, never to the environmentalists themselves.

        And, a $50k EV is part of the answer, right? Heh. I’m all for saving fuel and not destroying the earth, but as long as EVs are so costly, the dark side of environmentalism will be a little stunted.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        gslippy,
        I’m not following your argument at all.

        “Man is considered to be the enemy of the Earth, rather than the solution to its problems”

        What problems, exactly, did the Earth have before Man that environmentalists are trying to solve?

        “population reduction is always directed at others, never to the environmentalists themselves”

        Really? Never? You’ve met ‘em all? In my experience, self-proclaimed environmentalists are rarely the ones with large families. And I don’t know where you got the idea that abortion is the preferred method for reducing population growth. As I mentioned above, the hypocrisy with environmentalists in first world nations is per capita resource use.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “What problems, exactly, did the Earth have before Man that environmentalists are trying to solve?”

        Environmentalists consider man to be an alien race to be destroyed. Of course they’re not worried about anything else, even if fossil records show more extinct species from before the time of man than exist today. Then there’s the ugly little matter of climate change and devastating seismic and volcanic activities that occurred before oil drilling and productivity could be blamed for them. Maybe the reason environmentalists are so hateful is because of their ignorance. I hear the two go hand in hand.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @cjinsd:

        You need to get out more and meet people. Do not judge environementalists by a few vocal members with cranial-rectal inversion syndrome (CRIS), lest your (more conservative?) opinions be judged by the same standard…..!

        BTW, I wanted nothing to do with environmenatalism until the movement matured to the point where an engineering mentality was welcome. The wishy washy religious aspect of environmentalism that was so prevelent in the 80s and 90s kept me away. But by the time I started applying my calculator to the issues, they realized that they needed to solve problems that can only he solved through science and engineering. Except for a few vocal CRIS sufferers, anyway, but vocal CRIS sufferers are widely distributed across the political spectrum and are best dismissed by serious people much of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        CJ & gslippy,

        My apologies, I entered into this conversation assuming that I was dealing with rational people capable of making reasonable arguments. Instead, it looks as if I’m dealing with people who would rather make wild caricatures of others, implant them with the worst possible motivations regardless of the truth, and react to them with predictable knee-jerk emotional rants that have little bearing on reality. I’ve found that it is often best to just back out of those “conversations” because they are never productive and just get uglier. And that’s odd because I usually enjoy your comments.

        Everyone needs their boogeymen, and it looks like I’ve stumbled upon yours. Enjoy your bile and bitterness, and by god, don’t let anyone get in the way of your witch hunt. I certainly won’t try anymore. Cheers!

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      CA is an odd bag. Remember that 12% of all Americans live in California. You’re right that CA has high unemployment, we are the third highest in the nation, not the fourth unfortunately. However the population is not declining, it just hit 38 million around the end of Q2 2012 according to the statisticians.

      Of course, this is a moot point because the wealthy are the target market and there are far more than 3,600 wealthy people that would like an EV for whatever reason they come up with.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Goofy ranting aside, the purpose of this and other EVs is R&D. The sacred market forces are notoriously reactive, and it can be nice to have some work done ahead of time.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      @DC Bruce: As for the benefit, this is a beta test, and only rich geeks are invited.

      Have you ever tried to calculate what a car would cost without the economies of scale? I tried, and while my method was far from rigerios, the cost would be 2x-10x of what we typically see.

      EVs do not have the same economies of scale as conventional cars at this point (though Nissan and GM have a shot at changing that), so it’s possible (if these beta tests go well) that you won’t need to be a rich geek to afford one.

      Anyway, I just wanted to point out that what you think are Givens (like the price) may be Variables. And, if they are givens, so what? Let rich green-minded geeks throw their money away.

      We all hope that EVs can be The Answer, but don’t confuse hope and potential with how things are now. EVs are expensive niche vehicles, but that is an astounding amount of progress from where we were 5 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “the benefit of this car is the permanent right to use the “HOV” lanes on the congested freeways…”

      No, the stickers expire on January 1, 2015. http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm

      “…which is kind of perverse, since the idea of HOV lanes is to decrease congestion by increasing vehicle occupancy.”

      No, the Clean Air Act calls for using HOV lanes to reduce emissions.

  • avatar

    It seems to me people buy electric vehicles largely to make a trendy/environmentally sensitive statement and to enjoy the performance advantages. This doesn’t make any kind of statement, and and Model S enormously outperforms it.

    Why would someone buy this instead of a Model S? Price difference is only about 10%, and Model S is actually pretty good at cargo and passenger capacity.

    D

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    That plain old 12v lead-acid battery under the hood seems redundant for an electric vehicle, but I suppose it’s easier to just drop in the DC-DC to replace the alternator than redesign the wiring harness.

    Isn’t there supposed to be a new RAV4 sometime soon? Seems like this one’s been around forever.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Bumpy,

      Every EV that I know of still uses a 12V system. Because of OBDII for starters, you still need a 12V bus on the vehicle anyway. It’s also easier and cheaper to pull from the 12V parts bins of fans, blowers, ABS controllers, lights and all the other electrical gadgets we have on modern vehicles. When you start doing that you end up needing a 12V battery to act as a buffer which is essentially what they do. It’s cheaper, easier and more power efficient I am told to do this than to have some sort of low-draw DC-DC converter for the small draw the vehicle is making while it is off to run things like central locking, interior lights, remote control systems, the alarm, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        With a 12V battery you need an alternator. An alternator is surely less efficient (and let’s not forget about weight of alternator + 12V SLA) than a DC/DC converter.

        Very odd to see one here. I wonder if the Model S has a 12V SLA. Surely not..

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        protomech,

        Yes the Tesla has a 12V system and a 12V battery as well we are told. So does the Leaf, and the Fit EV.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        protomech,

        You most certainly do not need an alternator. DC-DC converters have been commonly used in EVs to keep the 12V battery charged for the past two decades. I still have the one that I was going to install in my 1980 Jet Electrica 007 (which also had a separate 12V battery, in addition to 20 6V batteries).

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The real reason all the BEVs and Plug-ins still use a 12V battery is: SAFETY

        When you first start the car the 12V battery powers the computers, once they decide everything is ok then they enable the 400V 200A DC contactor inside the battery case, also powered by the 12V battery BTW.

        The Volt does not use the 12V battery to turn over the engine, and they all have hefty 12V inverters (1500W) to keep the battery charged.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Fifty-two hours to charge on 120VAC.

    YIKES!!!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    48 large for this thing? A Prius V is 15-20k cheaper and much more drivable. Oh, but a consumer gets all that Tesla technology! If GM did something like this the sky would darken with volleys of flaming arrows.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      A real Tesla model S isn’t that much more expensive, so the only reason for buying this is if you need a FWD SUV (if that isn’t an oxymoron) and don’t have enough dressage horses to write off against taxes this year.

      In reality, it’s an R&D test bed and anyone who does buy it would have to be happy that they’re being used as a lab rat.

  • avatar

    It’s really past the time the assinine “hard plastic” line were put to rest. I did not deal with other cars so described, but I lived with the RAV4 dash for 4 years. It’s a great dash material (assuming, however, that Toyota kept the same dash for the EV).

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      As I said, I don’t have an issue with the RAV4′s plastics for $25,000-$30,000, but you will find much nicer bits in a $50,000 vehicle that isn’t an EV. This is just a fact of life when the EV drivetrain costs around what the entire car stickers for.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    154HP and 273lbft are almost if not identical to the Volt’s primary motor.. Interesting..

  • avatar
    wmba

    Alex:

    “charging stations seem to be designed to support a maximum charge rate of 6.6kWh with a fairly large share of 3.3kWh chargers”

    I do not understand. A kWh is a quantity, not a rate. It would be like saying a gas pump is rated at say 2 gallons or 4 gallons.

    If you meant 6.6 or 3.3 kW, I still don’t get it. If you have a supply voltage and an electrical load to feed, then a certain current draw will ensue. The only way to change that is to chop up the voltage part of the waveform, like a variable-speed drive. Then you pollute the electricity supply system with harmonics, and cause the local supply transformer to have fits.

    The usual consumer whinging about “poor utility power” is caused by such shenanigans from the customer load, not the other way round. Spent 25 years in the AC metering biz both as a supplier then at a major utility, so have some idea what goes on.

    I can say with some certainty that if huge electrically mis-shapen loads from charging tens of thousands of EVs becomes the norm, then there will be a huge cost in installing higher capacity stepdown transformers to handle these horrible loads which are on the face of it not huge, but electrically “ugly”. Otherwise, “dirty power” will become more and more commonplace, and the losses in transformers will waste energy, particularly in high “iron” losses.

    In past articles on this site, it has been stated that the “smart” part of the EV charging system are ij the vehicle. If this is in series with a rate-limiting charger operating on similar principles, then you may well have a real boondoggle.

    My take is that nobody, as usual, has examined the real ramifications that huge numbers of non-linear and discontinuous loads will have on utility systems. Moreover, meters are not very good at registering the harmonics caused by these loads, due to their narrow bandwidth responses, which are instead optimized for 60Hz.

    And that is before we even get into the kW versus kVa debates beloved of utility engineers when it comes to wire and equipment sizing.

    It looks to me like a big mess that will have to be resolved in the future, somehow. EVs! What a silly idea from start to finish, IMO. You have national goverments pushing this stupid idea, and making up equally stupid efficiency arguments that appear to make EVs 3 times more efficient than liquid-fueled vehicles by calculatingly misrepresenting facts. Their agenda boils down to weaning their populaces off foreign oil, and they’re prepared to fudge the facts to get their way. Irresponsible in the extreme.

    But then, governments never lie, right? What an unholy mess this this could all turn out to be eventually. Just like making ethanol from corn, and calling it Great.

    Commonsense is missing everywhere in modern life, says this old f**t. Oh well, retiring this month, and will probably croak before all this becomes a crisis which nobody, ha, ha, saw coming.

    What’s more, I couldn’t care less about Entune or other entertainment somas designed to make driving nothing more than digital miasma for the drooling masses sipping on Big Gulps, tapping the steering wheel in time to the tunes, their minds somewhere off in the void, and cramming bad fast foods down their gullets, while waiting for a text or tweet to arrive and brighten their daily commute, all while hurtling down the road at 75 mph. Life is great, ain’t it?

  • avatar

    The real reason this is a disaster has nothing to do with it being an EV or full of hard plastics. Where is the volume knob?

    Toyota of all companies should know that safe driving requires haptic feedback and one doesn’t get that from a flat glass slab that’s always glowing in the driver’s face.

    A big screen may be the best answer we have for now as to how to cram all this digital info into our eye sockets but eliminating buttons for key functions is not just stupid but dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I agree that touch screens in cars are only suited to the profoundly short-sighted, but a look at the steering wheel shows that this car has dedicated rocker switches for the functions you mentioned where the driver can use them without compromising their concentration on the road.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    All these electrons expended and we still have no idea if the rear suspension is bolted on correctly…

  • avatar
    Toshi

    Alex takes a dig at the price in the article:

    “One possible justification for spending about $25,000 more on the EV than the four-cylinder RAV4 is California’s “permanent” carpool access stickers. On my daily commute using the carpool lane solo saved me 30 minutes a day. How much is that worth to you? Your answer needs to be: more than $25,000.”

    First off, the proper comparison should be with a loaded V6 RAV4, not the I-4 base model. He notes in the article itself that it drives like the V6 one does, and the stuff like the 8″ Entune setup is surely not rental-trim fodder.

    Second, once one accounts for the price of energy to power the thing along, then the electric version breaks even (at least in Seattle or at off-peak Cali rates) in just over 6 years assuming $4/gallon gasoline, which is pretty conservative IMO given inflation and China’s voracious appetite for, well, everything.

    Back of napkin math by yours truly here: http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showpost.php?p=37111507&postcount=50

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Aren’t these cars going to be overwhelmingly leased? If so, wouldn’t a lessee look at the economics a little differently than those horrified by the sticker price? Something like this: I could put $3500 down and lease a BMW X3 for three years at $500 a month and still have to pay for gas, which over three years would cost $6000 (12000 miles annually) Or I could lease the RAV4 for the same amount and offset the gas by the $1500 home charger plus the additional electricity costs? Is that so ridiculous for someone already in the mood for leasing?

    Without getting into debates about the merits of leasing, there is a class of the population that look at cars as expense items and always lease and with sufficient cash flow, will do so for decades. Doesn’t that make electric vehicles more enticing?

  • avatar
    Thabo

    Why is it that whenever an electric car is reviewed it becomes a nasty pissing match between various parties. Don’t the haters get it; none of us here will ever buy an electric vehicle until it’s cheaper than a gas vehicle, get’s the same range and has the same performance BUT we are at the infancy of the product (ok there were some battery powered car in the late 1800s) so it’s gonna take time. Vehicles like this have to exist for us to get our $15k electric car that hits 0-60 in 6 sec and has a range of 300 miles. Think of it as a car companies R&D program that other people are paying for – sure a lot of these folks just want the green cred but let em because we need all the R&D we can get. It may even make sense for some folk, if it can save you an hour a day they if you’re a high flyer how earns $400 per hour you can see how this can add up.

    And yes perhaps the “Government” is being too heavy handed but if it were left up to us we’d have no airbags or ABS or stability control on new cars so sometimes we need a little push. Case in point, my moms NEW car has none of these safety items because there are no government regulation in SA that mandate this. We’d probably still be running leaded gas too. So it’s a balance or you can just move to Mogadishu where there is no Government at all – yeah !!!! Government this, government that …. jesus wasn’t this country built on personal responsibility – if you don’t like it go vote.

    So I’m not gonna be a part of this circle jerk chaps, sorry ;) but please don’t stop those that have lots of lolly helping us get our electric car in the near future.

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    Ladies and Gentlemen,for your consideration: Glamping with Ted Nugent & Fiona Apple.Sponsored by the All New Toyota RAV4 EV…

  • avatar
    ramonL

    I’m a fan of electric cars, but not those currently being produced. They are, in a word, unacceptable. And it’s all about the batteries – they are ultra expensive, have way to little capacity, which shrinks considerably as the years roll by, take ridiculously long to recharge,and are fragile (remember bricking Tesla roadsters?). Nor would any competent electrical engineer ever, even in his most insane moments, choose laptop cells (about 3800 of them) to hold a mere 41 kWhrs. Even the DIY EV guys laugh about that. But this car’s fatal flaw is that it is totally one-dimensional – an around town car that can’t travel. But, on the other hand, neither can any of Tesla Model S versions, at least not if you plan on travelling more than 600 miles,which means the Interstates (the 85kWh Model S has a severe aversion to Interstate speeds, even with a brand new $40,000 battery). I have no clue as to why Tesla is even building their 40kWh Model S – perhaps so they can claim
    that their cars start at $57K ?

  • avatar
    BlackDynamiteOnline

    If you want a 100 EV mile SUV, that carries over 70 cu ft of cargo, does 0-60 in about 7 seconds, you have exactly one choice on the market

    Compared to the less-expensive Nissan Leaf, it is infinitely roomier, for people and cargo. It is much faster, and may have a noticeably better real-wrold EV range.

    You get what you pay for.
    BD


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