Electric-vehicle manufacturer Tesla and Toyota announced that they officially agreed to initiate the development of an electric version of the Toyota RAV4 compact SUV. Under the strategic partnership of these two leading auto brands, the electric RAV4 compact sport-utility vehicle will not only be manufactured, but it also go on sales in 2012.
The development of an electric version of the RAV4 was first announced in May of this year by Elon Musk and Akio Toyoda. They added they would be building cars out of the abandoned Nummi plant in Fremont, CA.
According to the statements from the two companies Tesla has already produced a prototype that is being tested currently and intends to deliver a fleet of prototypes to Toyota for evaluation within this year.
Toyota is essentially upgrading an electric vehicle it built in limited units between 1997 and 2003. The vehicle featured then a 27.4-kilowatt-hour nickel-metal hydride battery that requires 5 hours at 240 volts to recharge.
"Toyota did a great job with the original, and the new RAV4 will be even better," Paul Scott, a founder of the advocacy group Plug-In America, said.
If the companies deliver on time, Toyota's plug-in vehicle plans would significantly accelerate. This means the company will introduce an all-electric small SUV, an all-electric small urban commuter car, and a plug-in version of the Toyota Prius on the market in 2012.
The carmakers may also develop an electric Lexus RX luxury SUV in the very near future.
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