Mitsubishi and Toyota are in the process of finalizing their own plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) to compete with the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt in North America. The carmakers have contrasting views on the fast charging of vehicles, further complicating the investment in infrastructure.
For 2012, Toyota is preparing to release two PEVs: the Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the RAV4 EV. The Prius PHEV will start selling in the first quarter of next year. So far, Toyota has received positive feedback from the 160 consumers throughout the U.S. who are testing the model.
Geri Yoza, the National Business Planning Manager of Advanced Vehicle Marketing, said that charging is being done more frequently than expected at about 10 times each week.
But then, the electricity cost was lower than estimated, at only about $150 for the whole trial period that spans six weeks. After launching 15 years ago, the Toyota RAV4 EV is set to return. The RAV4 EV is a BEV that could benefit from fast charging but it won’t have a CHAdeMO charging port.
Yoza explained that Toyota won’t feature fast charging on any of its vehicles until the SAE establishes a standard. Toyota is also hard at work on preparing the iQ EV, which will be offered to fleets and car sharing programs.
Stimulus funding provided by the Department of Energy has led to the installation of CHAdeMO chargers in several cities in the U.S. Private industry companies like retail store operators and real estate companies are thinking about the potential of setting up charging equipment.
However, they’d have to consider the advantages of appealing to Nissan and Mitsubishi BEV owners compared to what will happen if the SAE and many other automakers use a different standard. The DC charging equipment could be retrofitted to have a second port but the added cost could be discouraging.
Toyota unveiled the RAV4 EV at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. , Developed with Tesla, the RAV4 EV promises to offer a range of 100 miles in actual road driving patterns. Tesla supplies the battery and other related parts, while Toyota is in charge of development and manufacturing leadership and the seamless integration of the powertrain.
According to Toyota, the new RAV4 EV can sprint from nil to 60 mph (96 km/h) nearly as quickly as the RAV4 V6. The RAV4 EV shown at the 2010 LA Auto Show is powered by a lithium metal oxide battery with useable output rated in the mid-30 kWh range. Toyota noted that no cargo space in the RAV4 was lost in its conversion to an electric powertrain. In fact, BEV can offer a 73-cubic-foot cargo area when the rear seats are folded down.