Toyota Tells Of Their Partnership With Tesla, Ability To Make 25,000 RAV4 EVs (Video)

AUG 25 2012 BY STAFF 9

Toyota RAV4 EV, Powered By Tesla

You don’t often think of Toyota, or their employees, loosening up their collective ties enough to speak candidly about the early days of meeting up with their counterparts at Tesla, and working with them on the upcoming Toyota RAV4 EV, which starts taking pre-orders this month.  But yet, we have video proof.

Toyota’s Executive Program Manager, Sheldon Brown describes first partnering up with Tesla,  “…in the beginning it was a lot of ‘get to know you’, how you work, and going back and forth.  Think of it as like a dance with a new partner, you’re trying not to step on each other’s toes and you’re trying to get a sense of your timing”

Toyota Doesn't Try To Hide The RAV4 EV's Premium Roots

Another employee, Alan Williams, who headed up the Engine Compartment Design Group said of the two group’s pre-conceived notions:

“…we all came to the project with the notion that we were going to be working with Tesla, those Silicone Valley guys, and they are all going to be drinking their Starbucks coffees, and ‘aw-no worries’…and they probably came to the table all ‘we are dealing with these guys working at Toyota, they are going to be stiffs and suits.”

In the end, Toyota was grateful for the opportunity to work with Tesla engineers, and to witness a different development process.

Toyota deemed Tesla’s engineers as extremely smart, and excellent at problem solving.  For their part, Toyota credits themselves with the ability to both bring the Toyota RAV4 EV quickly to market and to “mass produce it, and make it serviceable at all the dealerships, (and) how to make it reliable and robust.”

Although Toyota says the RAV4 EV is a limited production (CARB compliance) car, and will only see 2,600 made, perhaps there is some wiggle room if the SUV is received well.

Toyota’s Executive Program Manager states in the video that while they were designing the car to go to market, they did so in order to be able to make “not 1, not 2, but 2,500, 25,000.”  Good news for those of us who might not otherwise have the opportunity to acquire a RAV4 EV.

Check out the rest of video from ToyotaESQ below (apparently no ties were allowed during filming):

Toyota RAV4 EV Interior

Categories: Tesla, Toyota


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9 Comments on "Toyota Tells Of Their Partnership With Tesla, Ability To Make 25,000 RAV4 EVs (Video)"

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GM better have a production ready Voltec SUV up their sleeve. If I were the head of GM, I would not give Toyota a full year of RAV4 EV sales with out competition.


I see no indication that Toyota (together with Tesla) will manufacture more than the 2,600 units of the RAV4 EV that they have indicated recently. If there is new evidence to the contrary, let me know.

Your very right Anton. No evidence that they will do that and produce more than 2,600; only that they could in fact do so very easily if they decided to.

We imagine if Toyota get 500 people wanting to pre-order this month, they might think about making this an on-going production line as opposed to a limited fleet run.

Compliance vehicles just make me sad – due to the amount of engineering expertise poured into them – and the time taken to make really great vehicles that run on electrons ….. Yet they’re just out of our reach. And sensible people know they’re not for the masses. The RAV4 EV would have to be mass-produced to make sense. At one point, I drool at the utility and efficiency of the vehicle, and the masterful integration of this existing platform with a new, clean, quiet, smooth and gasoline-less powerplant. I WANT ONE – I can see my family in one, until I see the price, and realize I’d opt for an entry-level Tesla and get a proprietary, purpose-built EV with better aerodynamics and interior room ( except height ). Actually for less money, an entry Model S is better in absolutely every way. Crossover SUVs just do not make sense to me unless one has all-wheel-drive needs like weather or true off-road use. The mainstream auto buyer has made them the hot segment, and every automaker races to get their cash. But why?! They’re basically a high station wagon with lousy aero drag and more bulk and weight – and… Read more »

All in time. The industry is young and autos/batteries are evolving faster than the orders. I think the auto makers have more realistic goals than they had just two years ago and have adapted accordingly. From strictly a technology point of view it is mind boggling. If a new researcher came to this site alone and read all the archives I am pretty sure their head would explode.

If gas prices soar and stay high for awhile they’ll produce it in larger numbers….


Everyone who’s ‘impressed’ with this ‘innovation’ should keep in mind that there are still RAV4 EVs on the road from 20 years ago, on the same batteries.

You know, after the last batch of perfectly good leased EVs got pulled from owners’ hands, and the Volt and various other cars, and most of the RAV4s were taken out to ‘undisclosed locations’, and crushed.

The only reason some of the RAV4 EVs were saved was the Toyota lease buying option that they forgot to remove from the contract.

This isn’t bleeding edge technology. It’s 20 years behind what it should be.

As if the computer industry had stopped with 80486 PCs, with floppy disk drives and 200MB hard disks, and 16 bit extended memory DOS, and just been left that way.

Compare a cell phone from 1992 to one made NOW. Yeah. The Motorola ‘bag phone’ was perfect! No need to keep developing the technology from there.

It’s like we went to the moon, and then never went back for 40+ years.

“and make it serviceable at all the dealerships, ”

My local Gilroy Toyota dealership told me they will not be seelling the RAV4 EVs or be setup to service them.

My local dealer in Poway, California, said they won’t handle the Rav4EV either. This is one block from the Nissan dealer that has sold a hundred LEAF’s.