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Charging the RAV4 EV

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The charger we use for the RAV4 EV is a cousin to the MagneCharge GM EV1 charger, having been manufactured under license from GM/Hughes by Toyota Automatic Loom (TAL) Works division of Toyota. Like the GM EV1's charger, it uses inductive coupling to eliminate shock hazard, but with a physically smaller paddle and car-to-charger communications via an infra-red link instead of the RF used by GM. The charger itself will actually still communicate via RF, so it is backward compatible with a GM EV1 with the use of a spacer adapter.

Of course the RAV4 EV is not compatible with the old GM charger since the charger paddle is too large and does not have IR communications capability. This makes our old GM charger unusable with the RAV4 (grrr...).

The charge port of the RAV4 is at the front, slightly offset to the right side of the car, making it almost unimportant as to which side of the car the charger is mounted in our garage (good design!). However, one strange "feature" of the RAV4 is that the charging port is covered by a locking cover which can be shut from the outside, but only opened from inside the car. This makes it possible for someone to disconnect the charger and lock the charge port, making it necessary to open the car before it can be charged again. While this might seem unimportant, it makes it possible for passers-by to interrupt charging at a public charger, and impossible for some good samaritan to start the charging again!

Clearly, this was designed by a gasoline car engineer. I don't think there's any possibility that someone will steal electricity out of the car. Nor would I care if someone unauthorized charges the car up for me!

Another annoyance is that if the charger paddle is pulled out while the charging is in progress, the paddle cannot be simply re-inserted into the car to continue charging. Instead one must insert the paddle into the charger to reset the charger and then put into the vehicle to resume charging.

A power failure during charging will similarly leave the charger hung up so that charging will not automatically restart. Bad design! In this respect, the EV1 and its charger was a better design.