2014 Tesla Model X Vs. 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: Electric SUV Showdown?

The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is unique, the only all-electric compact sport-utility vehicle sold by a major automaker in the U.S.

Behind the wheel, its Tesla-developed powertrain makes it peppy but quiet, while it maintains all the cargo and people space of the original gasoline version.

There’s really only one vehicle that’s even close to comparable, and that doesn’t exist yet: the 2014 Tesla Model X all-electric crossover, of which prototypes were unveiled in February.

Comparing a real car to a hypothetical one is an exercise in speculation.

But spurred on by a review on TheStreet.com that suggests buyers view the Toyota RAV4 EV as a Tesla for half the price, we decided to do it anyway.

SIZE:The 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is a compact crossover, in the popular segment that includes the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. The 2014 Tesla Model X, on the other hand, is a segment larger, competing with the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and undoubtedly pricier and more luxurious import-brand SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL. Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] says the Model X has the dimensions of the Audi Q7 but 40 percent more interior space.

SEATING: The RAV4 EV seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. The electric Teslasport utility, on the other hand, will offer seven seats (as does the Model S sedan with its optional jump seats, though the last two are only child-sized).

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012

WEIGHT: The electric RAV4 weighs 4,030 pounds, while no weight has been given for the Model X. Since it’s larger, we’d expect it to be rather heavier than the Model S sedan on which it’s based, which comes in at 4,650 pounds for the 40-kWh version.

BATTERY SIZE: The RAV4 EV has 41.8 kilowatt-hours of usable pack capacity, though oddly Toyota won’t give the total pack size. The Model X will offer 60-kWh and 85-kWh options, though unlike the Model S sedan, it won’t have a 40-kWh version.

POWER: The Toyota RAV4 EV uses the same electric motor as the Tesla Model S sedan, but its power is limited to 115 kilowatts (154 horsepower) by the battery pack output.The Tesla Model X will likely use the Model S motor–with peak power of 270 kW (362 hp)–in the standard version, and two electric motors (one per axle) of unspecified power for the all-wheel drive model. Tesla says there will be a Model X Performance edition as well.

DRIVE WHEELSToyota’s electric RAV4 is offered only in front-wheel drive, although Toyota’s program leader Sheldon Brown said that at least one all-wheel drive prototype was built, adding a second motor at the rear to complement the existing one up front. The Model X will be offered with rear-wheel drive standard, plus an optional all-wheel drive version that adds a second motor for the front wheels.

VOLUME: Toyota will build only 2,600 RAV4 EVs for the 2012 through 2014 model years. Tesla has said it could sell 10,000 to 15,000 Model X crossovers a year once full production levels are reached.

Tesla Model XTesla Model X

PRICE: The list price of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is $49,800, with a $2,500 California purchase rebate, and buyers may qualify for a $7,500 Federal tax credit. No price has been announced for the 2014 Model X, but Tesla says prices will be “comparable” to the base

Source: Green Car Reports

London fuel cell taxi fleet remains operational during 2012 Olympics

London’s fleet of hydrogen fuel cell taxis is remaining operational during the Olympic Games despite problems encountered by the fleet of fuel cell buses

Because of safety concerns, hydrogen is not allowed within the Games area for the course of the competition. It means the capital’s fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses have been taken out of action, though they will return in September on the RV1 route with three new additions. This will bring the fleet up to eight, making the RV1 route the first of its kind in Europe fully serviced by fuel cell buses.

Taxis, however, can get around the restrictions and were transported to the BOC hydrogen station in Swindon to refuel. A refuelling station will open at Heathrow soon, allowing the taxis to continue to transport dignitaries and VIPs during the Games.

Built by Air Products, the airport’s hydrogen station will be accessible to the public, dispensing hydrogen at 350 bar, with plans in place for a 700 bar capability in the future.

5 Natural Gas Car Facts

What’s the Status of Natural Gas Vehicles?
In years past, a number of auto manufacturers offered cars and light trucks that could operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). All automakers exceptHonda have left this market in the U.S., although companies like BAF Technologies do modify select existing models to run on gaseous fuels. This lack of CNG vehicles should change for the better since natural gas has so much going for it, especially in this age of rising gasoline and diesel prices and a growing dependence on imported oil. Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels, it’s found in abundance in the U.S., and it’s also significantly less expensive than gasoline.

Safe and Reliable 
CNG is actually a safer fuel than gasoline. After all, natural gas is used in virtually every home. Unlike gasoline that can pool on the ground in the event of an accident or leak, CNG dissipates harmlessly into the air. With a very narrow range of flammability to be combustible and nearly twice the ignition temperature of gasoline, it’s also less likely to cause a fire. Because natural gas is such a clean burning fuel, carbon deposits in an engine are nil, reducing cylinder and ring wear so engine life can be much greater than when running on gasoline. Oil change and tune up intervals can also be extended.

Natural Gas is Growing in Popularity 
Natural gas vehicles are growing in popularity. This has been driven in recent years by the medium- to-heavy duty market. Natural gas is now widely used in transit buses, school buses, refuse trucks, package delivery trucks, and vehicles used in ports. One thing these all have in common is that they can be refueled at a central location. This is not the case with cars and light trucks that travel where natural gas might be difficult to find. This could have contributed to the lack of interest in natural gas vehicles by general consumers in the past. In recent years, companies like Clean Energy have successfully driven natural gas vehicle use by building fueling stations and supplying natural gas under multi-year contracts to fleets at costs significantly less than the per-gallon cost of gasoline or diesel. Fleet use should lead to greater consumer use in the future.

Convenient At-Home Refueling 
At present there are about 800 natural gas stations available nationwide, compared to 175,000 stations dispensing gasoline. Refueling at a fast-fill CNG station takes no longer than tanking up with gasoline. As the fueling infrastructure builds for CNG, the inconvenience of limited public fueling opportunities is softened by the availability of filling up at home. That’s because Honda offers the Phill home refueling appliance, which was developed in conjunction with its Canadian technology partner Fuelmaker and is now manufactured by that company. Phill can be installed in a garage or outside a home to allow refueling using a home’s natural gas supply. The refueling appliance does require as much as 16 hours to fill an almost empty tank, although it’s likely that a natural gas vehicle refueled at home will rarely have an empty tank, and an overnight top-off will usually be sufficient for the daily commute. In many cases, vehicles fueled up at favorable natural gas home rates can operate as cheaply as the equivalent of $1.25 to $1.50 per gallon.

Honda’s Civic GX
Unlike bi-fuel vehicles previously offered by other automakers that could run alternatively on natural gas or gasoline, Honda’s “dedicated” natural gas Civic GX – the industry’s cleanest internal combustion production vehicle – has an engine that’s optimized to run only on this alternative fuel. The Civic GX comes only as a four door sedan that looks identical to gasoline Civics. Its 113 horsepower four-cylinder engine produces about 27 hp less than the standard Civic engine but you really can’t feel the difference during normal driving. The equivalent of 8 gallons of natural gas fuel is stored in a 3600 psi pressurized fuel cylinder located at the forward part of the trunk. This tank, which is hidden behind a carpeted liner, does consume some trunk space but leaves quite adequate room for carrying groceries, gear, and luggage. The Civic GX has an EPA estimated 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway fuel rating, about the same as the gasoline Civic. Its real-world driving range is approximately 200 miles between fill-ups. At $25,225, the GX costs about $7,000 more than the gasoline powered LX model but presently qualifies for substantial federal tax credits and other incentives. At this time in California you can even obtain a decal that allows driving a Civic GX in HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle, or “carpool”) lanes even with only one person in the car. This is the same benefit enjoyed by qualified hybrid cars that were issued decals in the state, although no new hybrid decals are available since the maximum allocation of hybrid HOV decals has been reached.

Source : Greencar.com