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Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), the biggest maker of hybrid autos, said its RAV4 EV sport-utility vehicle powered by batteries and motor from Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) will go farther on a charge than major competitors’ electric models.
The small SUV, arriving at California dealers in about a month, goes as far as 113 miles (182 kilometers) per full charge, Toyota said at a briefing this week in Newport Beach, California. The $49,800 model is the market’s only all-electric crossover and qualifies for $10,000 in combined federal and state incentives, the company said.
“The RAV4 EV’s driving performance, dynamics and cargo capacity are equal to or exceed the gas-powered RAV4 V-6,” said Bill Fay, group vice president of U.S. Toyota-brand sales. “It’s the most practical, versatile and convenient electric vehicle on the market.”
The battery-powered SUV joins a growing field of rechargeable models that includes Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf hatchback, General Motor Co.’s plug-in Volt sedan, Honda Motor Co.’s Fit EV subcompact and Ford Motor Co. (F)’s five-door Focus EV. Automakers are adding them to meet demand from some buyers for vehicles that emit little or no pollution and to comply with California rules requiring them from the largest brands.
Toyota plans to sell 2,600 of the RAV4 EV during model years 2012 through 2014 and an additional 30,000 Prius plug-in hybrids to comply with the state’s zero-emission vehicle program, Fay said.
The RAV4 EV takes about six hours to fully recharge, using a 240-volt outlet, and has two charging modes for its 41.8-kilowatt battery. With a “standard” charge, the model goes 92 miles; an “extended” charge option is available for longer trips, boosting range to as far as 113 miles of real- world driving, the company said.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Leaf averages 73 miles per charge, the Focus EV goes about 76 miles and the Fit EV gets about 82 miles. The Volt averages 38 miles on battery power before a gasoline engine engages to propel the car.
The EPA hasn’t yet rated the RAV4 EV’s range. Toyota expects the model to average about 103 miles, based on its two charge modes, said Sheldon Brown, executive program manager for the vehicle. Only Tesla’s $57,400 Model S sedan and $109,000 Roadster offer greater range, said Greg Bernas, the Toyota City, Japan-based company’s chief engineer for the electric crossover.
While the Toyota model’s range exceeds that of competing electric vehicles, it’s less than a third that of an RAV4 with a four-cylinder gasoline engine. That version of Toyota’s top- selling light truck, with a 15.9-gallon tank, goes about 380 miles when fully fueled, based on its EPA rating of 24 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
Tesla is producing the motor and battery pack for the RAV4 EV at its Fremont, California, factory, that formerly was operated by a Toyota-GM joint venture. Final assembly will be at Toyota’s Woodstock, Ontario, plant.
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