The Tesla-engineered RAV4 EV is not your soccer mom's RAV4. It's fast, fun and rare – only 2500 were made and they sold out in 2014. It's also a $52,000 car. The only caveat is that electric cars don't go as far as gas cars (see details below). A few highlights:
- Everything under the hood is made by Tesla – the motor is the same as the Model S. This thing is fast--Put it in Sport Mode and you'll burn serious rubber.
- No gas: No need to stop and refill before you return it to me.
- Charge for free: The vehicle comes equipped with member cards for all major EV charging networks, including ChargePoint, eVgo and Blink.
- Carpool lane sticker: 'Nuff said.
- Pet friendly: Feel free to bring your dog(s). If you do, please fold the seats down if you can and bring a large towel or blanket to lay down.
My car is set up for automated toll crossing using my license plate number so feel free to use the FasTrak lane. Don't pay toll because we will both end up paying.
There's little difference between driving an electric car and a gas-powered car. If you're a first time EV driver I'd be happy to talk to you on the phone or meet you in person to explain how things work with the RAV4 EV - just send me message. The following FAQs may also help.
Q: How far does it go?
A: Depends on driving conditions but I can easily go 120 miles. The RAV4 EV has a battery capacity and range nearly twice that of small EVs like the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3.
Q: How fast does it go?
A: It has the same motor as the Tesla Model S and if you put it in Sport Mode (button in the lower console) it will burn rubber. The RAV is electronically limited to 100mph.
Q: How do I turn on Sport Mode?
A: There's a button in the lower console
Q: Will I need to charge during my trip?
A: If you plan to travel less than 120 miles, you most likely don't need to think about charging during your trip unless you have a lead foot or plan to cruise above 80mph most of the time. You are welcome to do either but just know that doing so for your whole trips could reduce your mileage by 10-20 miles.
Q: What are some examples distances the RAV4 EV can go?
You can make a round trip from Berkeley to the South Bay or Napa/Sonoma without stopping to charge (although there's plenty of EV charging in both areas). You can make it to Monterey without stopping to charge but you'd need to charge while there (again, plenty of charging options there as well).
Q: How do I find a charging station if I need one?
A: There are thousands of charging stations across the Bay Area, including in destinations like Napa, Santa Cruz, Monterey, etc. The easiest way to find a station is to install the PlugShare app, available for free in the iOS or Android store.
Q: How do I know if a station will be available when I get there?
A: The PlugShare app will show green lights on stations that are free for eVgo and Blink network stations. For ChargePoint network stations, you'll need the ChargePoint app to see if the station is available (free for iOS and Android).
Q: How do I pay for EV Charging?
A: You'll find member cards for all major networks (ChargePoint, eVgo, Blink) in the the visor. Just swipe the card and plug in. My account will be billed and no fees will be passed on to you.
Q: How long does it take to charge?
A: Most pubic chargers will charge the RAV4 EV at a rate of about 7kW (kilowatts). This equates to adding about 20-25 miles of range an hour. For example, if you stop for lunch and charge for an hour, you will be able to drive an extra 20-25 miles.
Q: What factors reduce range?
A: The main range reducers are:
-Driving fast: Like with a gas car, if you cruise at 80mph or more it will cut your range down by about 10%.
-Lead foot: Just like a gas car, this will reduce range.
-Cold weather: If the temperature drops below 50 degrees and you have the heat blasting, you might notice a slight decrease in range.
Q: Do I need to plug the car back in when I drop it off?
A: Yes, please. The charge port is on the back left side of the vehicle, and you'll need to back into the driveway. You'll see the charge cord hanging there and can access the charge port just like you'd access a gas tank: the switch to open the lid is on the lower left side of the drivers seat.
It's pretty easy, but if you can't figure it out no big deal - I'll take care of it when I get home.