Servicing is a Big Issue With the Toyota RAV4 EV (Especially Outside California)
By Jim Motavalli · February 21, 2014
Toyota is facing a small tsunami of concern relating to servicing of its RAV4 EV, which sports many components (electric powertrain with battery pack, charging system, inverter, motor, gearbox and associated software) from Tesla.
I pontificated many of these issues in an article I wrote on this forum some time ago:
http://www.plugincars.com/will-toyota-c ... e-car.html
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Since I wrote that article, I took Toyota to a "Lemon Law" hearing for them to take back my car, after it spent over a month in the shop. For the several (many?) other Rav4 EV's that Toyota has voluntarily taken back with a hushed tone with no public hearing or fanfare, and with many of the same issues as my car, Toyota decided to fight me.
The "evidence" that Toyota used in the hearing to indicate that their car is perfect, and that I'm a bad person who destroyed their perfectly fine car came from literally THOUSANDS of my forum posts and articles. They actually had them printed out in a big, thick pile. Let's just say that the arbitrator is paid for by Toyota and I lost that round, and now I have to go to real court to get this resolved. Since I am frequently out the country on business, this whole process is a real pain.
I otherwise really like the car, if it could just stay out of the shop. Sadly, in the last week or two, the car refused to go into gear with my wife at the wheel and me half way around the world. Sadly, I know the issue all too well, and the best I'd get from Toyota is that they either couldn't duplicate the problem, or they couldn't fix the problem. That doesn't mean that the folks at Tesla and the folks in the research end of Toyota in Detroit, Michigan aren't working on all these problems. There is a new firmware update regularly, the latest being version 1.3.83, from 1.3.50-ish when I bought my car.
So, what's next for me? I bought a second Rav4 EV for our company, Quick Charge Power LLC, so that we can use it to develop a CHAdeMO quick charge port for those cars. We call that project "JdeMO". Much like Tesla Model S can do now, I hope to be able to drive a Rav4 EV from Mexico to Canada with nothing but DC quick charging all along the route.
Hopefully, Toyota will get most of the bugs addressed before the production stops sometime this year. I fear that once they are producing their hydrogen Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) compliance car for California only, this CARB-ZEV compliance car will be quickly forgotten. Perhaps, with good riddance!
For the record, Toyoyta and other companies producing ZEV hydrogen cars for California will get 9 credits per car, with $68 million in California tax payer money devoted to building hydrogen stations for them. Obviously, nobody will want to take one out of state. Win, win, win for Toyota.
In contrast, the Rav4 EV only gets 3 credits, people like them outside of California where Toyota doesn't get 3 credits, and they have to pay a sub-contractor (Tesla) a lot of money per vehicle. Plus, there is no diligent California program for EV quick charging like Washington state and Oregon have with their West Coast Electric Highway.
The Rav4 EV was always the interim compliance car, and it shows.