Toyota’s comprehensive technology strategy is a portfolio approach that includes a long-term commitment to hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in hybrids and battery electrics all driven by the further proliferation of conventional gas-electric hybrids, like Prius, as its core technology.
Toyota has announced that coinciding with the arrival of the RAV4 EV in 2012, it will launch, in key global markets, the Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid) and a small EV (Electric Vehicle) commuter vehicle.
It will also launch, in key global markets, its first commercialized hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in calendar year 2015, or sooner. Finally, by the end of 2012, Toyota will add seven all new (not next-generation) hybrid models to its portfolio.
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) debuted Wednesday the second-generation Toyota RAV4 EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Like Toyota, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation also decided to host the world premiere of the North American version of its i-MiEV new-generation electric vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show. (Read: Mitsubishi i-MiEV at the LA Auto Show)
According to Toyota, a total of 35 vehicles will be built for a demonstration and evaluation program through 2011, aiming at market arrival of a fully-engineered vehicle in 2012.
The fully-engineered vehicle will have a target range of 100 miles in actual road driving patterns, in a wide range of climates and conditions.
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“When we decided to work together on the RAV4 EV, president Akio Toyoda wanted to adopt a new development model that incorporated Tesla’s streamlined, quick-action approach,” said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer, TMS.
“The result was a hybrid – a new decision and approval process and a development style that our engineers refer to as ‘fast and flexible.’”
The demonstration vehicle Toyota is currently testing is powered by a lithium metal oxide battery with useable output rated in the mid-30 kwh range.
However, many decisions regarding both the product, as well as the business model, have not been finalized.
Battery size and final output ratings, as well as pricing and volume projections of the vehicle Toyota plans to bring to market in 2012, have not been decided.
As for a final assembly location, Toyota is considering many options and combinations. The basic vehicle will continue to be built at its Canadian production facility in Woodstock, Ontario.
Tesla will build the battery and related parts and components at its new facility in Palo Alto, Calif. The method and installation location of the Tesla components into the vehicle is being discussed.
In 1997, Toyota brought to market the first-generation RAV4 EV in response to the California zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate. Powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the vehicle had a range of between 80-110 miles on a single charge.
From model year 1998 to model year 2003, only 1,484 vehicles were sold or leased in the U.S. while 746 first-generation RAV4 EVs are still on the road, says the company.