At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?

Toyota’s first fully-electric production car is now more kitsch than commuter.

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Nice Price or No Dice 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV
Photo: Craigslist

While Toyota has recently introduced a new all-electric crossover, the ridiculously named bZ4X, today’s Nice Price or No Dice RAV4 EV proves it’s not the company’s first rodeo. Let’s see what this former “first take” might be now worth in today’s hot EV market.

“Go West, young man” is a phrase that is generally attributed to Horace Greeley, although that attribution is something the newspaper editor went to great lengths denying over the course of his later years. Last Friday, I asked you to “Go Westie” as we looked at a 1987 VW Vanagon Westfalia Weekender that had seen better days. The rust, dents, and non-running condition overcame the van’s inherent manifest destiny, as many of you felt it was more a parts car than a restoration project. At $6,700, those parts didn’t add up, and the Vanagon went down in an 86 percent No Dice loss.

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Photo: Craigslist
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When it comes to parts of cars, the most important of those of often considered to be the engine. As car enthusiasts, we like to know about engines. When we talk about particular cars we always want to what kind of engine is under the hood, and what sort of power it offers. And to a certain extent, what sort of sounds does it make. Vroom-vroom.

That all seems to have changed with the advent of modern electric cars. Most of the mid- to high-end electric cars and trucks offered today provide pedal-to-the-floor acceleration once reserved only for hypercars. And the electric motors that make all that happen don’t make much fuss or noise while doing so. As such, most car enthusiasts don’t get into the nuances of electric motors all that much. Few of us argue the inherent merits of AC vs. DC motors, or which rare-earth magnet material offers the greatest efficiency. Instead, most people just focus on how far an electric car will go before all the juice runs out.

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Image for article titled At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

Today’s 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV was originally EPA rated for a range of 95 miles between said juicing. It’s safe to say that over time and charge cycles, that number has most likely dwindled. Still, even getting 70 to 80 miles between plug-ins makes this RAV4 electric a viable city commuter for many.

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Toyota introduced the RAV4 EV back in 1997, offering the model as a lease-only option to satisfy California’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle mandate. Once the letter of the law had been met, Toyota dropped the EV edition of the RAV4 and sold off the 328 previously-leased cars. In total, Toyota built a little over 2,500 of the Cute-Ute EVs before shutting down production.

Image for article titled At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?
Photo: Craigslist
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Like many “compliance cars” of the time, the RAV4 EV was a derivation of an existing ICE-powered platform and hence was saddled with a structure that wasn’t optimized for an electric drivetrain or battery placement. That meant a smaller, and less-efficient battery than on a modern EV and hence only a double-digit range. There’s also no front trunk as the RAV4 EV uses that space for its controller and other related electrical components.

The battery is a 95Ah Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) pack comprised of 24 12-volt cells for a total of 27kWh of storage. By comparison, a modern Tesla Model Y uses a 75 kWh battery pack. Mounted under the floor, the battery powers an AC 3-phase traction motor which produces a modest 67 horsepower and drives the front wheels through an inline differential. There is no traditional transmission employed in the EV as forward and reverse are handled via motor direction. Both plug-in and regenerative recharging are possible on the car.

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Image for article titled At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

Most of the RAV4 EVs seem to have been painted in white, however, this one comes in a less appliance-like silver with contrasting gray rocker moldings and bumpers. It rolls on steel wheels and calls attention to its status as one of the rarer RAV4 models by way of large vents on the rear fenders. The bodywork shows signs of age and the seller nicely calls out the most egregious of these in the ad’s photos. Overall, it’s not bad, it just looks a little beat.

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Image for article titled At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

The interior has faired similarly, with some wear obvious in the floor mats and a dash-top carpet that looks like the ill-fitting toupee that it is. Other than those issues, it looks perfectly livable in here, although if you expect a big screen displaying drivetrain and battery charge status you will be sorely disappointed. The RAV4 does make concessions in the dash for the electric drivetrain, but those are old-school.

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Image for article titled At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

The car originally called California home, although it now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina according to the ad. The pics in the ad were obviously shot in California and hence perhaps come from a previous sale. No word is given on the car’s present range, so that may be a sticking point in its purchase. It does come with a few extras, including two spare windscreens and both one working and two non-working wall chargers for the house. I’m guessing the latter two are for parts. The title is clean and the car has a modest 97,000 miles on the clock.

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Image for article titled At $11,995, Is This 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV An Electrifying Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

What might such an odd duck of a car be worth? The seller is asking $11,995, which interestingly is probably less than what it would cost just to replace the batteries if that’s even possible at this time. That makes this a car with a finite life span, and that might significantly inform your decision as to what it might actually be worth.

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What do you think? Is this RAV4 EV worth that $11,995 asking as it sits? Or, does that price not give you a charge?

You decide!

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Charlotte, North Carolina, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to jdmayhorn for the hookup!

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