Has Toyota Been Secretly Developing an All-Electric RAV4?

Toyota has pretty much perfected the compact crossover formula. The RAV4, for example, is the best-selling crossover in the U.S. Additionally, the Japanese carmaker has developed excellent hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the popular model. In a surprising announcement, Toyota claims it has a brand new fully electric crossover set to debut in 2021. According to Motor1, the crossover will sit alongside the RAV4.

This electric Toyota will utilize a brand-new platform

A digital outline image of an upcoming electric Toyota SUV.
Toyota Concept SUV | Toyota

While the information on this new electrified Toyota is hard to come by, we know some key details. For starters, we know that the crossover will ride on an all-new e-TNGA platform. This is a variation of Toyota’s TNGA modular platform, which underpins many of its current models, such as the RAV4. According to Motor1, the new crossover was developed in collaboration with Subaru. This means we’ll likely see a Subaru variant as we did with the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ. Additionally, this crossover is set to be built in an EV-only factory in Japan, says Motor1.

According to Motor1, Toyota is not only planning to build a crossover on this new platform. Following the release of its first electric vehicle, we will reportedly also see the arrival of a large SUV, sedan, and minivan. The most important detail here is that Motor1 reports that these new models will carry entirely new names. This likely means that Toyota wants to embrace a new line of EVs without stepping on established models’ toes. In terms of powertrain, Motor1 reports that no data has yet been announced.

When will this electrified Toyota arrive?

A digital outline image of an upcoming electric Toyota SUV.
Toyota Concept SUV | Toyota

According to Motor1, this brand-new electrified Toyota will make its official debut sometime in 2021. From there, Motor1 reports that it will be available in a couple of years, citing Automotive News Europe. This means we will likely be able to purchase the new crossover sometime in 2022 or 2023. Thankfully, Toyota has stated it will gradually unveil more important information throughout the coming months. The crossover is set to be a global model, although Toyota has plans to unveil it first for the European market.

Motor1 recently reported that the Subaru variant of this electric crossover would also arrive sometime in 2021. Although there is no official timeline, chances are these two models will make it to market relatively close to one another. Given Subaru’s involvement in the project, Motor1 reports that both crossovers will benefit from a clever all-wheel-drive system, which should help make use of all of the electric motor’s new performance.

Could it be an electric RAV4?

The Toyota RAV4 is a small and affordable SUV.
Toyota RAV4 | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

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Although Toyota has already stated that this new model will carry a unique name, there are clear similarities to the current RAV4. From the design sketches published by the Japanese carmaker, we can clearly see that the overall shape closely resembles the brand’s best-seller. Even the sloping rear roofline is quite similar. Above all else, it makes great business sense to keep the overall design quite close to the RAV4. This means buyers of the best-selling model could embrace the EV, thanks to its familiar look.

As a result, we may very well see an electric crossover that isn’t technically a RAV4 but closely resembles one.