If you want to find out how absolutely awesome the RAV4-EV, Toyota's all-electric vehicle that was avaible in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is, all you have to do to is talk to someone who still drives one today. We've heard from a lot of people who swear by these aging rides, and wouldn't trade them for anything, today or tomorrow.

It seems that Toyota has realized it had something good back in the day, and wants to see what these aging EVs can teach us today. The company announced this morning that is will be bringing four off-lease RAV4-EVs to Portland, Oregon - where it is currently holding a Sustainable Mobility Seminar - to "assist in the development of clustered electric-charging infrastructure for the arrival of future zero- and low-emission vehicles." What that means is that the BEVs will serve as shuttles between local mass-transit terminals and downtown/suburban locations using a centralized car charging system similar to Toyota's e-com system that went online in 1999. The RAV4-EVs, all fully refurbished 2002 and 2003 models, will be part of the University of California, Irvine's ZEV-NET (Zero Emission Vehicle-Network Enabled Transport) program. Portland State University is also a part of the tests. More details available after the break.

[Source: Toyota]


PRESS RELEASE:

TOYOTA ANNOUNCES PORTLAND PLACEMENT PROGRAM FOR OFF-LEASE RAV4 ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Station Car Program Designed to Assist Portland and Oregon Develop Plug-in Infrastructure for Future Zero- and Low-Emission Vehicles

PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 24, 2008 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., announced today at its Sustainable Mobility Seminar media reception that it will place four off-lease RAV4-EV battery-electric vehicles (BEV) in a new program in Portland, Oregon designed to assist in the development of clustered electric-charging infrastructure for the arrival of future zero- and low-emission vehicles.

The vehicles will be used as station cars for shuttling people from mass-transit terminals to downtown and suburban locations. The program is being developed by Portland State University (PSU), in association with the University of California, Irvine's (UCI) ZEV-NET (Zero Emission Vehicle-Network Enabled Transport) program. In late July, Portland General Electric (PGE) went on-line with its first free-standing public electric-recharging station, marking the event by recharging a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. On September 22, PGE announced the installation of five additional plug-in charging stations – enough to charge 12 vehicles – in the Portland and Salem area, with more on the way.

"We are excited about the opportunity to participate in the ZEV-NET program and to team with Toyota and U.C. Irvine," said George Beard with PSU's Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. "It is obvious that the next
several years will bring us a range and growing number of low-emission and no-emission vehicle options, particularly electric and hybrid vehicles. Our region's position in renewable energy and its leadership reputation in urban sustainability make this partnership a natural for all involved," said Beard.

The Portland initiative will be patterned after the highly successful UCI ZEV-NET shared-use, station-car program in Southern California. "ZEV-NET, in association with Toyota, started in 1999 with the deployment of prototype Toyota e-com city electric vehicles, and is today the nation's longest-running station car program," said Dr. Scott Samuelsen, Director of UCI's National Fuel Cell Research Center and Advanced Power and Energy Program. "ZEV-NET provides a unique research platform to explore both a major sustainable mobility alternative with a smart high-tech management system, and the role of distributed generation as the fueling backbone."

Last month Toyota Motor Corporation President Katsuaki Watanabe announced that Toyota plans to launch an all-new BEV commuter car in the early 2010s. Watanabe also announced that Toyota will begin a limited-volume placement program for a new lithium-battery powered PHV that will be leased to fleet customers in late 2009., in Japan, Europe and North America.

"Both vehicles will require the development of electric charging stations to meet customer expectations for practicality," said Bill Reinert, national manager, Advanced Technology Group. "By clustering infrastructure in urban environments, BEV and PHV owners will not be tethered to their home-charging systems, thus extending their electric range capabilities."

"I'm pleased that Toyota has selected Oregon to launch this new initiative in partnership with Portland State University," said Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. "It is partnerships like this one that help advance my vision and efforts to make Oregon a national leader in bringing this next generation of
vehicles to market. I look forward to building on this collaboration as we work to expand access to alternative fuelled vehicles across the state."

The vehicles being placed in the program are 2002 and 2003 model-year off-lease vehicles that have been fully refurbished. From 1998 to 2003, 1,485 RAV4-EVs were leased or sold to fleet customers and private individuals in California as part of the state's Zero-Emission Mandate program. The vehicles are powered by nickel-metal hydride batteries rated at 288 volts with a range of about 80 miles between charges.