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The Toyota RAV4 EV Has Had Two Obscure Generations

Here’s something you might be surprised to discover: Toyota has sold two generations of a fully electric RAV4 crossover. It’s true: the RAV4 recently entered its fifth generation, and two of those generations have involved a fully electric model — not a hybrid, but a full, plug-in EV. So why haven’t most car enthusiasts heard of this?

The main reason is that the fully electric RAV4 was never released in big quantities. The very first electric RAV4, called the RAV4 EV, came out in 1997 with the first-generation RAV4. At the time, the RAV4 EV had a 78-mph top speed and a 95-mile range, both of which are pretty respectable for an electric crossover. Admittedly, the original RAV4 wasn’t all that fast — 0-to-60 mph was around 18 seconds — but it was OK for around-town driving.

However, it was limited to California. The original RAV4 EV was offered only in California, from 1997 to 2003, and Toyota leased them to customers, which were primarily businesses and local governments. For a short time, Toyota also sold a few RAV4 EV models to the public, resulting in a few hundred examples ending up in public hands — but no more.

The second-generation RAV4 EV debuted in 2012, and it’s a bit better-known than the original — in part because the battery pack and electric powertrain were produced by Tesla. This RAV4 EV was once again limited to California, though it got a much wider release than the original, selling to the public from launch in all of California’s major metro areas. This time around, range was up to 103 miles, and horsepower sat at 155 for better acceleration.

Once again, the RAV4 EV died quickly, with Wikipedia suggesting just 2,500 units were delivered, all in California — and from there, the RAV4 Hybrid seems to have taken off and filled the RAV4-sized hole in Toyota’s EV lineup, meaning a future RAV4 EV may be uncertain. Find a Toyota RAV4 EV for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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