Toyota has often been criticized for being slow to advance the hybrid powertrain it developed or the original Prius, which is now in its third-generation form. However it has already revealed a plug-in version with the capability for extended all-electric running, and at Los Angeles it went a step further with a totally electric Toyota RAV4 crossover.
In typically Toyota fashion, details are sketchy, but the Japanese company did reveal that it is the result of the recent collaboration deal it has signed with Tesla, the Californian-based producer of a Lotus-based electric sports car.
Toyota will build 35 Rav4 EVs for a test and evaluation programme in 2011. The cars will come off Toyota's RAV4 production line in Canada and use Tesla electric drive components from California.
No figures are quoted, other than that Toyota is targeting a range of 100 miles on a single charge and that a production version is planned for 2012. It is not known which markets Toyota is aiming at with the car.
Toyota has in fact been working on all-electric vehicles for 40 years and began looking at ways to bring an electric RAV4 to the market in 1995. Test vehicles based on the original RAV4 were put out to several North American power institutions, and a prototype RAV4 EV was shown at the Los Angeles show in 1996. Electric RAV4s were available to fleet and lease customers from 1997, and were briefly even offered to private owners in America, though they never spread to other markets.