2002 Toyota Rav4 EV

VIN: 2630 - purchased 12/16/2002
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In December, 2002, we purchased our 2002 Rav4EV. This car has half the power, more battery capacity, and similar range to the EV1. It is blessed with mildly better acceleration performance than its ICE counterpart. These 1996 model years gliders were originally built to be either ICE or electric. They are NOT conversions, but were designed to be electric from the beginning. Much of the EV is identical to the ICE counterpart. The BIG advantage of this EV (besides the fact that nobody can take it away from us!) is that it has five doors and seats five people. This is the car that we take on family trips, and it is also the daily commute car ever since the EV1 has been returned to GM. Toyota has made these cars for fleet use since 1996, and there are several cars with well over 100,000 miles on them that are going strong - on the original battery packs. The Rav charges slower, but more consistently than the EV1. It also requires a small paddle inductive charger, so the chargers for the EV1 will not work with this car. Most people agree that the Rav4EV is the most integrated EV of all of the initial production cars of the 1990's. Except for the quiet power, no exhaust, no shifting no starting, no vibration and no idling or fill ups or tune ups - you can hardly tell this car from the gasoline version. :)

Most of the Rav pages will only be of interest to Rav4EV drivers, but feel free to look around.  The Mods section is where most of my time is spent.

The official reasons that Toyota gives for why EVs are not suitable for the retail market - the reason that Toyota is working on FCVs in favor of BEVs. Presented 09.26.06 on a slide at the ZEV Technology Symposium, Sacramento:

poor utility
high cost
short range
long refuel time
the need of dedicated infrastructure

Following is my Report to the Rav4EV list immediately after I purchased the vehicle (16-December-2002):

Hi EVerybody -

My silver 2002 Rav4EV is currently parked in my driveway. And I OWN it! I took the huge leap, put my money where my mouth is and just bought the damn thing. I’m in this deep now. And for the time being – I have two EVs in the family (until the EV1 goes back to GM in November, 2003).

The dealership experience: Well it sucked. No other way to put it. It took over a month for my car to be delivered AFTER my charger was certified. I was guaranteed that my car would have been built after September 1 (important to me for child seat anchor laws) but mine was built in June 2002. I was never kept informed of the progress of my order, and promises of communication were never realized. The guy I handed the money to asked why I chose the Toyota EV over the others, and I said that the Rav was the ONLY EV in production today. “What about the Honda Insight?” He asked. Then finally, when it was time for somebody to “show me the ropes,” I was sent outside with a youngster who first informed me that this was the first Rav4EV that he’d delivered. Not only that, but he has never driven an EV of any type before. In short, he knew absolutely nothing about the vehicle and insisted on pulling each booklet out of my package with great flourish and explaining to me “this is the "Owner’s Manual” and “this is the “tire warranty” etc. It wasn’t long before I just asked if I could have the key and leave. While I needed no explanations, a first-time EV owner will be absolutely lost with this kind of treatment. I mean this guy didn’t even know there was a charge port door release – much less a charge port. Didn't know when the EV tech was available, and didn't know anything about the service intervals or costs.

Couple of things that surprised me about the car, even after having some brief, previous Rav4EV experience:

The driver window has auto down AND UP! really like that feature on another car I owned. There are buttons mentioned in the owner’s manual that simply don’t exist (snow mode, rear seat heaters). The “cogging” feel is quite noticeable going slowly uphill in reverse. Feels like a shudder or clutch chatter. I notice it going forward, but not nearly as much. I’m also a bit concerned about the limited torque in reverse as has been mentioned earlier. If I stop on my not-so-steep driveway, I have to floor the throttle to move backwards again. This is going to be a bit scary when I park on the hills in SF. (Learned since this message: The torque is NOT limited in reverse - it simply requires more pedal travel to access it). I’m not sure where to put my remote GPS antenna now that there is no sloping rear window (stock antenna doesn’t work behind the heated windshield of the EV1, so I assume it won’t work behind the Rav’s either). (Learned since this message: An external remote antenna was the answer here - see the Rav "mods" section). The EB regen mode is less effective than the EV1’s, but of course the B mode is quite a bit MORE effective. Except for the slight jerk when lifting off the throttle (vs. the slight jerk AT the throttle), I can barely notice the difference with the EB button on or off. I really like the integrated feel of the car, though I miss the zip of the EV1, certainly. How come there is no 12:00 am on the charger timer? (just reads 0:00 – I assume that’s the same as midnight. Would make sense if this was a 24-hour clock, but it is not)

For my needs the car needs (and will eventually have, if I have any say):

1. Tinted rear windows (the ICE has factory tint, why doesn’t the EV?) (done)
2. Remote door locks (done)
3. Cruise Control (HUGE oversight) (done)
4. Console arm rest (done)
5. Carpet protector tray for cargo area (done)
6. I’m ready for Li-Polymer batteries! (I wish)

This is the abridged version, but I’m still sorry for the length. Now I’m officially in the club, so teach me the secret handshake please!

Michael Sale

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