Trucks & SUVs

Toyota Once Partnered With Tesla to Make a Disappointing Electric RAV4

While many automakers have had success releasing EVs, Tesla is known for being the first. Its first vehicle, the fully-electric Model S sedan, received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Soon, many other automakers would follow in its footsteps, releasing vehicles with hybrid powertrains and long electric ranges.

Toyota is well-known for creating the Prius sedan, one of the most efficient and reliable hybrid cars on the market. Despite some promising plans, the company hasn’t manufactured its own fully-electric vehicle yet. However, a few years ago, Toyota formed a partnership with Tesla and created the Toyota RAV4 EV.

Tesla and Toyota team up to create the RAV4 EV

The CEOs of Tesla and Toyota shaking hands
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda shake hands | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At the time of its release, the RAV4 EV was the only all-electric SUV available for purchase. However, it cost nearly $50,000 and was only sold in California, which severely limited its potential customers. The RAV4 EV was only built to be a “compliance car”, meaning that it met California’s strict zero-emissions standards for automakers.

Still, it’s very roomy on the inside and has a massive cargo area, up to 73 cubic feet. This is pretty impressive considering the battery pack taking up space at the rear of the vehicle. Tesla supplied the electric motor and battery pack, which is capable of 154 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. 

How well does it drive?

RELATED: Why Consumer Reports Recommends the 2015 Toyota Prius

Testers at Green Car Reports found that the RAV4 EV is fairly agile for a vehicle of its size. At the time, many Toyota cars didn’t have the most responsive steering, but the RAV4 EV was an exception.

Testers were also impressed with the accuracy of the electric range estimator. The RAV4 EV is rated for 100 miles of all-electric power, but Green Car’s test vehicle could reach 115 miles.

Additionally, the RAV4 EV is definitely speedy by SUV standards, according to Car and Driver. In its normal driving mode, it can reach 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds. However, with Sport driving mode engaged, it reaches 60 mph in a brisk 7.0 seconds.

The Toyota RAV4’s biggest weakness was its extended charging times. Unless you purchased a Level 2 charging station, getting a full charge required more than 24 hours.

Toyota felt that this wasn’t justifiable given the RAV4 EV’s short-range, which is why the EV was discontinued after the 2014 model year.

Why did Tesla and Toyota split?

RELATED: Life After the RAV4 EV: Can Toyota Keep the Spark Alive With Tesla?

Toyota expressed interest in creating more electric and hybrid vehicles, but it never had any more joint endeavors with Tesla. The contract between the two companies to build electric vehicles together ended in 2014 and was never renewed. In 2016, Toyota sold off the remaining stake it had in the Tesla company, effectively ending the partnership according to CNN

Some analysts speculate that the split was made so that Toyota could establish itself as a capable EV manufacturer on its own. After the partnership was formed, the market considered Tesla as the leader in EV production. Toyota wanted the chance to prove itself without the help of Tesla.

Since the split, both companies have grown considerably. Tesla cars currently offer the longest range out of any other electric vehicle, up to 402 miles on the Model S. Toyota is testing new ways to speed up battery charging and has just released a plug-in version of the RAV4.

The new Toyota RAV4 Prime

The all-new 2021 RAV4 Prime was released in July. It may not be fully electric, but it’s definitely more efficient than the hybrid version. A full charge provides drivers with up to 42 miles of purely electric power. Its powertrain is capable of up to 302 hp, more powerful than any other RAV4. According to Toyota, the RAV4 Prime is only outmatched in speed by the Supra sports car.