This post is short on words, long on pictures to give you an idea of what it’s been like for us to live with the all electric Rav4 EV for the past 5+ years, and how an electric car may fit into your life. I initially posted these pics in June 2016, and updated the post in November 2018 to add some pics and a couple thoughts as more affordable, longer range electric cars are showing up on the roads.
The adventure begins: Here I am picking up my 2012 Rav4 EV in 2013.
First day of owning the Rav, first time trying out a public charging station in Davis, CA.
Charging my EV overnight in the garage. Many people charge their EVs at night while they sleep, waking up to a fully charged car that is ready for the day ahead.
Silently driving around the Yolo Bypass to watch birds.
My daily commute to work takes me by the state capitol building in Sacramento.
The 2012-14 Rav4 EVs are pretty roomy. Here I’ve loaded two 3 foot tall boxes into the rear storage area and was able to close the rear hatch. The boxes contained sensitive equipment that had to be transported upright.
Most of the time we use the car for routine things like driving to work and trips to the grocery store.
We also use our Rav4 EV for weekend excursions. Here the car is packed, fully charged, and ready for a 2014 camping trip: 1 tent, a 10′ x 10′ shade, 4 sleeping bags, 2 coolers, food, important drinks and more for a weekend of fun. All in the rear storage compartment.
Charging at a beach front campground on Bodega Bay.
Another camping trip, to Stillwater Cove.
Charging on a 50 amp circuit with a mobile charging cord near Stillwater Cove.
Yet another camping trip, this time to Point Reyes National Park.
View from the campground at Point Reyes.
It gets foggy out at the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
Visiting some slightly older 2002/03 Rav4 EVs in Point Reyes park that were still in service as of 2015, and used daily by rangers for driving around the park.
Driving along Route 1 north of Santa Cruz.
Driving through Sutter County.
The 2012 Rav4 EV came equipped with a ‘Level 2’ charging port (see pics above) that charges the car on AC current at a maximum of 240 volts / 40 amps. Charging at 240V/40A requires about 5 to 6 hours to fully charge the battery. A DC charging port option was not available. Higher power DC current can charge electric cars much faster. I bought a third party DC charging port, called JdeMO, made and installed by Tony Williams of Quick Charge Power. On the left is the new charging port when installation was nearly complete, and on the right a photo showing me plugged in and charging on a CHAdeMO DC charging station. I can now charge at up to 380 volts and 125 amps. This is ~7 times faster than Level 2 charging and is essential for longer trips.
An example of DC charging: my battery received over 22 kWh in 30 minutes.
Charging my Rav4 EV at a DC charging station in San Rafael, CA. Many DC charging stations are located near stores, cafes, and restaurants.
On a trip to Muir Woods we got a charging spot in the parking lot while exploring the Redwood forest, then drove through the Golden Gate on the way home.
Monterey, CA. We visited the Mission, the Presidio, museums, and what trip to Monterey would be complete without a trip to the aquarium?
Life happens. Our EV was rear ended and the rear hatch and bumper had to be replaced. Luckily nobody was injured and in our case the repair process was pretty much what you’d expect with any other car.
After getting our Rav back on the road we toured the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco.
Driving the hills of San Francisco on a work trip.
Weekend skiing trip to the Sierra Nevadas, February 2016.
Ski resorts in the Sierra Nevadas are starting to provide charging infrastructure for customers.
Camping at an RV park near Calaveras Big Trees state park in 2016. Many RV parks have electric outlets that can charge an EV if you have the right adapters. The Big trees are impressive. Thank goodness we no longer cut these trees down just because they’re big.
Visiting the Murphy’s in Murphys, CA.
We also took our Rav4 EV on a pilgrimage to the nearby California Automobile Museum in Sacramento to see a piece of automotive history: the all electric EV1 that GM made between 1996-1999.
The ‘U’ in SUV stands for Utility. 40 wall blocks at over 21 pounds each. The Rav4 EV suspension is not rated at a half ton, but this electric car has the space to handle the occasional heavy load like this 840+ pound cargo for a 9 mile drive from the local home building supply store.
Lake Tahoe January 2018.
Visiting Yosemite National Park in the summer of 2017.
An established charging network is essential for traveling in an EV. Green icons are DC charging stations I’ve used. There are many, many more – these are just the ones I’ve used. DC charging stations take the place of gas stations, and allow EV owners the freedom to travel longer distances. Just ask anyone who has a Tesla.
Solar systems can offset the electricity you use to charge an EV. Our 6.2 kW rooftop solar system produces nearly as much electricity as we use for our house and our EV.
November 2018: The Rav keeps proving how useful it is. This weekend I picked up a new workbench that is 50 inches long, 30 inches tall, and 2 feet deep. Weighs 200 lbs. Not a problem for our trusty Rav4 EV.
Conclusion: After 5+ years and 77,000 miles I can report that the Rav4 EV is a great car for daily use. Adding the DC charging port made it an even more useful car. With the expanding network of DC charging stations throughout California my family can travel throughout our region of the state.
As of fall 2018 the EV market is rapidly changing. More affordable, longer range EVs such as the Bolt EV (238 miles of range, per EPA) are available today, and the Tesla Model 3 that can use Tesla’s extensive national – make that international – Supercharging network to drive around the country is showing up on the roads in large numbers as we speak. The Nissan Leaf is now rated at 150 miles, and other automakers are upping their game. An updated version of the BMW i3 is rumored to have 150 miles of range. The 2019 Hyundai Kona is rated by the EPA at 258 miles of range, and the Jaguar iPace (234 miles) has started to appear on the roads. Toyota must get back in the game and offer another battery-powered Rav4 EV, there is definitely need in the EV market for exactly this type of car. So, the future is swiftly arriving…. but our Rav4 EV is still a part of the present and continues to serve us well.