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Is This The End of The Line for Toyota RAV4 EV?

End of the line for Toyota RAV4 EV
End of the line for Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota’s stance on electric vehicles seems to be clear, so the end of the Toyota RAV4 EV doesn’t really come as a shock.

Instead, Toyota is focusing on its hybrid electric vehicle and hydrogen fuel cell technology, clearly seen even in its marketing. True, hybrids are a great interim step, but I don’t think they’ll lead for long. Unfortunately, Toyota’s stance leaves the future of its sole pure electric vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, without a powertrain. The Toyota RAV4 EV, on the outside, looks like any other RAV4, plus some electric blue accenting, minus fuel filler door and tailpipe. Under the skin, however, the RAV4 EV sports a lithium-ion battery pack and powertrain jointly developed by Toyota and Tesla Motors.

The Toyota RAV4 EV hasn’t seen much success outside of California, where it is sold basically as CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) fodder, the sole ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle) in Toyota’s lineup. Otherwise, Toyota wouldn’t be allowed to sell the rest of their cars in California, the nation’s largest automobile market. Additionally, Toyota would have to buy ZEV credits, affecting their bottom line. Interestingly, because the battery and powertrain supplier, Tesla Motors, produces only ZEVs, that company has made a profit off other automakers’ failure to develop them.

Unfortunately for the Toyota RAV4 EV, the Tesla Motors battery and powertrain contract runs out at the end of the year. Tesla Motors says it won’t be looking to renew, and Toyota don’t seem all that interested in renewing it, either. So, this seems like the end of the line for the Toyota RAV4 EV, but we know that, to satisfy the CAFE and ZEV requirements in California, Toyota will have to produce another ZEV in order to avoid penalty. Does this mean that the Toyota FCV hydrogen fuel cell concept vehicle is ready for prime time?

Photo credit: Toyota UK / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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  1. Ladson  I have always been a toyota fan, but lately they seem to be pushing the limits. a worldwide leader in automobile innovation and manufacture, i have to wonder if they sticking with just HFC technology and keeping EVs sidelined is for reasons that I haven’t fathomed. they’ve got some smart guys over there. I just hope their hydrogen method isn’t reformation, because that doesn’t solve lifecycle emissions problems in the least.

  2. I think you have been misled.  Hydrogen generation through electrolysis currently rivals steam reforming in efficiency (>70%)  and several companies are introducing new PEM based units.  This includes automakers, particularly the Japanese automakers, who are researching in home electrolysis based hydrogen refueling.  Honda has been a leader in issued patents in electrolysis for years.  Toyota has had one of the largest fuel cell vehicle research programs for the last 10 years in preparation for this.  This was not a recent decision, nor the result of some oil company conspiracy. 

  3. Toyota seems to be going through a transition of thinking.  Certainly with all they know about Hybrids, they know the limitations of fuel cells.  They know that the electrolysis of water will not supply a large enough supply of  hydrogen and the process uses way too much energy to be viable.  That leaves FCV buyers with full dependency on the oil companies to supply the hydrogen fuel by reforming Natural Gas and Oil.  That means little changes for the better for the consumer; he still must tank up at fuel stations run by oil companies who have complete control over the prices.  If you drive an EV and charge it from solar power at home, you have independence from oil companies.  And, if you cut the grid tie by installing storage batteries at home, you don’t need the utility companies either.  Talk about freedom.

    Toyota’s actions over the last few months lead one to wonder who has control of the company.  They are fighting EVs on all fronts, including negative PR with gross errors. They are cancelling their joint venture with Tesla.  They seem to be acting more like General Motors than the Toyota company, I once knew.  Is there oil money involved…I wonder.


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