It might be a compliance car, built by Toyota for the sole purpose of meeting California’s regulations for zero-emission vehicles, but the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is one of the most highly-anticipated plug-in cars of 2012.
The anticipation is with good reason. Combining the practicality of a crossover SUV with a Tesla-engineered drivetrain, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV is the first contemporary all-electric crossover SUV to hit the market.
But how do you go about buying one?
Live in California
As Toyota lists on its dedicated Toyota RAV4EV website, the first step to buying a 2012 RAV4 EV is to live in California.
That’s because California is the only place you can buy one, a tacit admission from Toyota that it is only producing the 2,600-car limited-production run of RAV4EVs to satisfy Californian law.
Complete Toyota’s compatibility quiz
Just as other automakers have quizzed potential owners on their lifestyle and daily commuting habits, Toyota wants to know it is selling a RAV4 EV to someone who understands the limitations of a plug-in car which only travels around 100 miles per charge.
Unlike some compatibility quizzes we’ve seen, Toyota keeps its questionnaire simple.
Provided you live in California, drive daily commutes less than 100 miles in total, and have access to off-street charging, you should pass this compatibility quiz with flying colors.
Find a dealer
According to Toyota, there are only 55 dealers in the U.S. authorized to sell the Toyota RAV4 EV. All of them, of course, in California.
As you might expect, residents in Los Angeles get the greatest number of dealers to choose from, closely followed by those in the San Francisco Bay area.
Meanwhile, those in Central California get the least number of dealers to choose from: just three.
Visit the dealer
Next up on Toyota’s list is a dealer visit, where you’ll be given a chance to talk about ordering options, charging technology, and sign the “EV Customer Disclosure Form.”
Toyota doesn’t explain what this is, but it’s likely to be similar to the forms that Tesla and Nissan have had owners sign in the past, accepting that they understand how to drive and look after their electric car.
Interestingly, Toyota doesn’t list a test-drive on the list of things to do at the dealer, something we hope is a given.
Get a charging station installed
As part of its plug-in vehicle program, Toyota has teamed up with Leviton to offer its customers a level 2, 240-volt residential charging station for $999, including a basic install.
However, it’s important to understand that there are no prerequisites that RAV4 EV buyers use a Leviton unit, or indeed a 240-volt charging station at all.
To make the most of the RAV4 EV, however, it’s advisable to buy a charging station capable of providing a 9.6-kilowatt, level 2 charge at 40 amps of current. This will ensure you can charge the car’s 42 kilowatt-hour battery pack to full in 5-8 hours.
Once your home is ready, your Toyota dealer will provide you with the keys, walk you through the basics, and of course, sign all the paperwork.
Will you get one?
At $49,400, the 2012 RAV4 EV isn’t exactly a cheap car, but for those who can afford it and happen to live in California, it offers one of the best drives of any electric car on the market today.
And of course, it evokes positive memories for plug-in fans who remember the first generation RAV4EV, an estimated 500 or so of which are still driving the roads of the U.S., some ten years after they were first made.
Are you tempted? Or is the 2012 RAV4 EV too expensive?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.