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2012-05-08 08:09

TOYOTA'S GREEN-FREINDLY SUV:Since the Prius, Toyota has always been a pioneer in the realm of hybrid and electric vehicles. In 2012 the Japanese automaker takes another step towards green-freindly driving solutions with the debut of its RAV4E

LOS ANGELES, USA - Toyota has unveiled what it says is the first electric SUV on the market at the 26th annual Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles.

It's a tweaked version of its popular RAV4 with a range of 160km and a recharge time of six hours and will at first be sold only in California for the equivalent to R389 000 and the Japanese automaker has set itself a modest target of 2600 sales over three years.

Toyota USA executive Bob Carter said the company believed the car would "attract sophisticated early technology adopters, much like the first-generation Prius".

PRIORITISE ENVIRONMENT

The production model is a two-year project in collaboration with electric automaker Tesla. The RAV4 EV will be built by Toyota alongside standard models in Canada.

Bodywork modifications include redesigned front bumper and grille, external mirrors, rear spoiler and underbody. Other exterior differences from the standard RAV4 include LED headlights and daytime running lights.

The front-wheel drive RAV4 EV has a powertrain capable of 115kW. The model has two modes, sport (0-100km/h in seven seconds, top speed 160km/h) and normal, the latter exttending the 0-100km time to 8.6sec, reducing top speed to 136km/h but extending the car's range. As with the Lexus CT200h and Toyota Auris hybrid, the instrumentation glows red in sport mode and blue in normal.

The heatable seats have model-specific fabric and cabin colours and a touch-screen. Its total cargo capacity is 2067 litres (seats folded), same as the conventional RAV4 despite the battery pack and other electrical parts.

The EV comes with a 120-volt emergency charging cable for "when the recommended (240-volt) charging is not available".

Carter said: "It's all about blending the best of two worlds. The RAV4 EV marries the efficiency of an EV with the versatility of a small SUV - in fact, it's the only all-electric SUV on the market."

The model, which costs more than double the price of a conventional RAV4, will have some difficulty with long-distance trips as well as finding mass appeal.

Carter said: "It's designed for consumers who prioritise the environment and appreciate performance. We look forward to seeing how the market responds," he added, unveiling the car at the .

The new model will go on sale later in 2012 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.
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