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Paul, although the RAV4 EV drivetrain and batteries are Tesla Model S, it's a Toyota and is not allowed to use the Tesla Supercharger network. I don't need it anyway, because I never plan to use this car for distance driving. I drive ~15k miles/year just commuting to/from Seattle (58 miles/day), and the EPA range is 105? miles for the RAV4 EV.
In August/September when I bought it, even with the A/C coming home in the afternoons, I could just about do two days' commute on a single "normal" charge. The RAV4 EV has an "extended" charge mode which I've never used, and which adds another ~15-25 miles range.
(A Leaf's range is closer to 80 miles.)
However, now that it's darker & colder, and I'm running the lousy/inefficient Denso 6kw heater on at least the morning run to work, the GOM (Guess-O-Meter, dash range display that guesses your range based on your previous driving habits) says that instead of August's 115 miles, now I have 90 miles range. So, the range is very dependent on whether you use the heater. The A/C is pretty efficient but the heater isn't.
(The Leafs through 2012 used the same heater. The 2014-on Leafs went to a heat pump, which uses a lot less juice. Toyota didn't go that route.)
California and PGE (the electric power company for around half the state) offered all kinds of incentives. Washington offered use of the HOV lanes for single-occupant EVs for a while, but that's expired. PSE, the local power company, was rebating part of the cost of home EVSEs ("chargers", although that's not at all what they are!*) through about April of 2017, but I bought in August. That might have been worth around $500. And, as an EV I pay $150 every year to the State in lieu of the gasoline tax I'm not paying.
I'm not complaining, as I'm not really an early adopter. I could never afford an EV until recently, but I've been on an EV mail list for almost a decade.
Carimbo: I was seriously looking for a Leaf to buy. I can't stand a black interior, and most of the Leafs built after 2013 are black inside, so I was looking at a LOT of Leafs online at dealerships, trying to find one I liked. I like to research the cars I buy, and since I knew nothing about the Leaf I was reading a forum like this one, one devoted to the Leaf. It turns out that a lot of EV forums are managed by a single entity, and while reading about Leafs I clicked on a link that took me out of the Leaf forum and to the RAV4 EV forum, where my eyes were opened to this niche EV.
Next, I searched on RAV4 EV and found that a lot of them were just now coming off-lease and that Paramount Motors NW in Seattle
buys them and ships them to Seattle to resell (they currently have four on offer). Within about five days of reading about the 2nd Gen RAV4 EV (they had a 1st Gen EV back around the turn of the century), I had convinced myself I could live with its quirks and just about afford one. I looked at one on a Sunday afternoon, did NOT drive it, left a deposit, then took a bus (three of them, actually) to work the next day, another two buses to the dealer, and bought it and drove it home on Monday.
It was $19k; around $21k out the door with 10% Seattle/Washington tax and other fees. The four listed in their inventory right now are all priced the same (though none are blue, and all have ~35k miles to mine which had 49k).
Also, due to the nature of this car being a sort of low-volume prototype, and the very expensive parts cost of the non-shared parts with gasser RAV4s, I knew that the extended Toyota warranty was absolutely necessary, and that ran another $3k. And the EVSE I chose (see below) was $600, and then I had to add a breaker to my existing subpanel in the garage and run 20' of 6 gauge wire to a new receptacle on the side of the garage (I park outside). I had half a spool of 6 gauge left over from adding a holiday-baking oven to the garage a couple of years ago (it's cheaper to buy a CraigsList $100 oven and $150 of wire/breaker/receptacle and put the second oven in the garage, than to remodel the kitchen to accept a double oven! And we only use it twice a year.).
A decent Leaf, OTOH, could be had for half that cost. But a leaf doesn't have the huge-ish rear hauling area, and the Leaf doesn't have active battery temperature management, so battery life on the Leaf is not as reliably long as the Tesla's. Tesla has a battery heater for when it's under 60°F, and it uses the electric A/C compressor to cool the pack as it begins to get above 120°. The Leaf, OTOH, does not do either of those. Sunbelt Leafs suffered with heavy battery deterioration, esp. on the earlier (pre-2014) models. Battery degradation on the Tesla and RAV4 batteries is well under 10% at 100k, which I like a lot.
What I like about the RAV4 EV:
Noise. The A/C compressor is the noisiest thing I hear at a stoplight. My Tesla transaxle is getting noisy (a common problem, covered under warranty; I will have it replaced before the 60k std. warranty expires) so I do hear "gear noise" at ~63 MPH, but around town is is close to silent. All I hear is the tire noise (and the VPNS
at low speeds).
No more gas stations! I had to fill up the Aerostar yesterday, and it was the first time I'd been to a gas station in months. It felt . . . weird.
Always full: Every morning my "fuel tank" is full.
Acceleration: limited by traction, the RAV4 EV is a lot faster to 30 MPH than I need, and certainly a big difference from my diesels. Even the MB, which is no slug and was the fastest passenger diesel in the world in 1999, feels sluggish when I drive it now. And because it makes no noise as it pushes you into the seat, it's even more impressive. You can zip around like a boy racer, and unless you make the tires squeal, nobody turns a head. High launch speeds just do not make a fuss and are therefore socially acceptable.
Handling: for a mid-range SUV, it corners flat. A lot flatter than you'd expect. The battery pack is ~800 lbs and it's all under the floor. This thing does not want to lean. It weighs as much as my AWD Aerostar.
Regenerative braking: in "B" mode of the "shifter", one-pedal driving is practical with some practice. When you lift your foot from the accelerator, the regen braking begins. And in either "D" or "B" modes, using the brake pedal triggers regen braking (from the front wheels only, of course). One long hill I have on my commute gains me range: I show one more mile on the GOM when I've gone to the bottom of the hill. Doesn't sound like much, but cumulatively the regen braking adds up.
What I don't like about the RAV4 EV:
Traction. I put new Michelins on it two weeks ago, which is an improvement over the Goodyear Assurance that were on the front (and the worn-out OEM Yokos on the back), but wheelspin is still a problem. I leave the traction control on and the Sport Mode off whenever the pavement's wet. Cornering is no problem, though.
Ride: it's fine for what it is, a mid-range SUV, but it is not as comfy as my Aerostar nor my MB E300, and I do miss that. Until I press the not-loud pedal!
* EV "chargers": Level 1 (L1, 120v) and Level 2 (L2, 208v-277v) charging uses a vehicle's onboard
charger and an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Suppy Equipment)
to safely get electricity from a receptacle to the onboard charger.
An EVSE is a very fancy extension cord. What is is not
is a charger, but it's common for people to call it one. What it does is communicate with the vehicle's own charger the status of the line (dead or live) and the ampacity of the circuit (ie tells the onboard charger how many amps it is safe to draw without overloading the circuit and tripping a breaker). On modern EVs, the act of plugging the EVSE to the car also disables the cars from being driven: safety measure.
Per SAE J1772
, the EVSE sends a PWM +-12v signal 1khz square-wave signal to the vehicle; status (ready to charge, begin charge, charge complete, etc.) is signaled by the voltage on the wave; ampacity available (1A to 80A) is signaled by the pulse width.
Both the vehicle and EVSE sockets's HV pins are electrically dead when disconnected. When mated, the signal pins connect, the EVSE tells the vehicle how much ampacity is available and the vehicle signals it needs a charge and to send juice. Contactors in the EVSE and
contactors in the vehicle close, and the onboard charger begins to draw juice; on the RAV4, this starts low and ramps up quickly to ~38A on my L2 EVSE at home.
L1 = charging with a cord plugged to a 120v outlet. Limited typically to 120v/16A, it would take like four days to charge my RAV4 from "empty". It's not very useful. Most EVs come with an "emergency" portable EVSE equipped for L1 charging ie at any typical receptacle. It looks like a extension cord, with a typical NEMA 1-20P plug on one end, and a J1772 connector on the other.
L2 = charging is usually 240v (in the US) with the EVSE dedicated (bolted down) to a charging area, although they make, and I bought, a portable L2 EVSE that I keep in the RAV4 in case I want to charge somewhere where I can find an RV hookup or a friend's dryer receptacle. The RAV4's onboard charger is ~10kw (the early Leafs were 3.3kw; the later ones 7.7kw) so it can draw ~38A @ 240v max. I drive about two hours a day on my commute, 58 miles, and it takes about 2.5 hours to charge to normal full.
L3 = completely different. In this scenario, the charger truly is outside the vehicle and supplied HV DC to the vehicle. This is DCFC (DC Fast Charging). The Leaf and most modern EVs have a connector to accept DC from an external charger. Typically, you can get a 20% to 80% charge in around 30-45 minutes; the charge rate is much slower above 80%. The Tesla Supercharger network is all DCFC but proprietary and only Tesla vehicles are allowed to use them.
My drive scenario is mostly commuting, and charging at home fits my life. I used a public L2 charge station last week at my barbershop (within a multi-business building) for the first time ever, because I'd signed up for a couple of charging networks and had the accounts and wanted to try it out. I charged L2 during my haircut, about a half-hour and was billed $1.25. I didn't need the charge, I just wanted to go through the motions to see how it worked.
So far, I've never seen the GOM below 20 miles left. I've been to junkyards, side-trips, shopping, and taking coworkers home, and just haven't ever gotten enough miles to feel uncomfortable about getting home or needing to find a public charging spot, but I am prepared with the accounts set up and the charging station locating apps on my phone.
The RAV4 EV does not have a L3 connector. There's a third-party kit to add it. It's $3k. I have a gasser vehicle to back up the RAV4, and that's what we plan to use for trips to Oregon etc. I don't know that I'll add the L3 kit, because I bought the car as a commuter vehicle, not my sole vehicle, and I don't see the need. From what I can see, 99% of my miles will be charged at home.
I was burning ~$220/mo. of gasoline (or $170/mo. of B100) commuting. I haven't looked hard at the electric bill, but I expect it to be around $80/mo. more than previous. That's a guess.