Next-Gen RAV4 Rolls Off Assembly Line

Toyota
President & CEO of Toyota Canada, Larry Hutchinson, with the all-new RAV4, autographed by workers from the Woodstock plant. (Photo: Jack Kazmierski)

Production of the fifth-generation RAV4 has started.

Toyota recently invited Canadian journalists to Woodstock, Ontario in order to tour the assembly plant where the all-new RAV4 is currently being built. Production began mere weeks ago, and the factory is ramping up to speed, with the goal of producing a new RAV4 every 60 seconds.

The Woodstock plant was retooled for the production of the 2019 RAV4, with 75 percent of the processes changed and improved. Currently, the plant is focused on building the gas-powered version of the new RAV4, with production of the hybrid version scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019.

The all-new RAV4 will be offered in all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive configurations, with plans to build both a rugged off-road worthy version (the Trail grade), as well as a sporty version – the XSE HV.

The standard engine will be a 203-hp 2.5L inline-four, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the RAV4 Hybrid will be equipped with the same engine (219 hp total system output) coupled to a CVT.

Factory tour

The Woodstock plant is one of eight facilities around the world building the RAV4. Nearby, Toyota’s Cambridge, Ontario plant will start production of the RAV4 in 2019 after the Corolla reaches the end of the line at that facility.

The tour included a closer look at some of the improvements Toyota has made to the fifth-generation RAV4, including extensive use of ultra-high-strength steel and structural adhesives, both of which improve rigidity. 

“The vehicle is no longer just welded together,” we were told by our tour guide. “It’s also glued together.” Aluminum panels offset the added weight that comes from the extensive use of ultra-high-strength steel. 

The tour included a stop where we were invited to compare the new interior vs. the one in the last-generation RAV4. It’s clear that the interior is now more refined and welcoming, complete with extensive use of soft-touch materials throughout, in lieu of the old hard plastic.

We also had a look at how Toyota is using technology for quality assurance purposes. The instrument panel inspection station, for example, includes robots that take photos of connections and key areas of each assembled panel to make sure there are no mistakes. Toyota knows it’s easier, and less expensive, to catch a mistake at this point in the production process, rather than have to fix it under warranty after the vehicle is delivered to the customer.

The RAV4 is a big seller for Toyota, and the company forecasts robust sales of the all-new model. In fact, Toyota will be running two shifts at the Woodstock plant, with the possibility of keeping the assembly line running on Saturdays, just to keep up with demand. While the all-new RAV4 is the best Toyota has ever built, it’s likely that fleet sales will be limited because retail demand is expected to be so high. 

Toyota aims to produce a RAV4 every 60 seconds.
Our tour included a look at the ultra-high-strength steel used in the production of each RAV4.
Another stop on the tour allowed us to compare the upgrade in materials between the new RAV4 and the last generation of the popular CUV.
Two shifts will work at the Woodstock plant, with the possibility of extra shifts on Saturdays.

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