Tesla Cars on Sale for Half the Price
As with the other premium electric cars, the Tesla-based Toyota makes wild acceleration into an undramatic event. There is no downshift, no embarrassing noise, and no shakes or rattles. It's just a totally silent "Andre the Giant's hand" lunging your car forward with a feeling you simply cannot translate into words. You have to experience it in the driver's seat. The Jetsons Age has arrived.
Handling-wise, the Tesla-based Toyota is limited, again, by the cheap wheels. This is no Chevrolet Volt in that regard. That said, the center of gravity is low thanks to the battery built into the floorpan.
One interesting anecdote is that Toyota, in attempting to perform the government's mandatory roll-over crash test, was unable to get this SUV to roll using the government's prescribed method. Its center of gravity is so low, it just wouldn't tip. This means the caution you feel while sitting so high up, and taking turns while riding on relatively squeaky tires, is, in the end, fundamentally unwarranted.
Unlike Tesla's Model S, the Toyota version uses a standards-based charging interface, so that you can use almost all electric car chargers without an annoying adapter. Toyota uses Tesla's 10 kWh on-board charger, so you can fill up large giant battery from zero in six hours or less, depending on amperage and climate. That's 50% faster than a Ford Focus and three times faster than a Chevy Volt or Nissan LEAF, on a per-hour basis.
You, future Tesla owner, it's decision time.
So let's say you have a deposit on the Tesla Model S -- and you live in California -- should you move fast and try to switch your place in line for one of the 2,600 Toyota RAV4 Electric SUVs before they're gobbled up? The answer is not easy, but here are the factors:
1. Price: The Toyota version will cost you $40,000 net, and the Model S, depending on which version you buy, will cost you anywhere from $47,500 to over $90,000 net.
2. Range: The Toyota version of the Tesla comes only with a 41.8 kWh battery capacity, whereas Tesla's Model S also comes in 60 and 85 kWh capacities. So while the Toyota version will give you a range of around 100 miles (conservatively), the Model S will give you options all the way up to 265 miles. That's a big difference.
3. Body: The Toyota is a conventional small SUV, whereas the Model S is a unique hatchback in that it also has an extra luggage space in the front. The Toyota has a roomier and much more comfortable back seat.