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Report: Toyota, Tesla To Create Prototype Electric Car This Year

12 June 2010

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. indicated that it plans to develop an electric-car prototype jointly with Tesla Motors Inc. for testing as early as this year.

Upon forming capital and business ties last month [earlier post], Toyota and Tesla said that they will jointly develop electric vehicles and share expertise, such as Tesla’s electric-vehicle technologies and Toyota’s production know-how. As the first step, the two firms aim to develop a prototype based on a current Toyota model using Tesla’s lithium-ion-battery-based system.

Actively utilizing Tesla’s technologies will likely enable Toyota to lower the cost of its future electric vehicles, a Toyota executive said.

June 12, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

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A win-win situation.

It is relatively easy to startup a new car company that produces small series of expensive toys for the rich. But Tesla has always wanted more. They want to have a place in the volume market. But to be a player in the volume market is a whole different game, next to impossible for a newcomer. The market is too competitive and you need too much capital for that. Luckily, Tesla has seen this and won't even try to go it alone.

Tesla can tap into the almost unlimited experience of mass producing mainstream cars and in return Toyota gains experience with EV's without risking their brand reputation.

Well said Anne. This JV makes a lot of good business sense.

Would Toyota eventually supply one or more of their suitable bodies such as the Prius II+, up-dated Matrix, IQ, Lexus etc?

This is a solution looking for a problem.

What technology is/was Toyota lacking?

Motors and control electronics are not a cost or performance issue and will not become one until pennies must be shaved from each EV design to compete with all the other EVs.

That won't happen until there ARE a lot of other EVs, which will not happen until batteries are not costing thousands too much to make EVs compete with the lowly ICE.


For clarification, since I am not paying for this (nor are the Japanese taxpayers), and if TMC thinks this is a good match – have fun.

I wish them the best of luck – the more interesting EV efforts, the better, as long as they pay their own way.

It might work better than it did for Daimler and Chrysler.

As a stand alone producer, Tesla doesn't have much of a chance on the world market. Unfortunately, it would fold within 5 to 10 years as many others did before.

Combo Toyota-Tesla electrified vehicles could, with Toyota knowhow, mass production facilities and worldwide distribution network, have a much better future.

Other small e-vehicle producers will sooner or latter follow the same path.

Ah ha! I thought so; a JV using Tesla's drive line and experience and Toyota's factory and production know how. It's not that Toyota doesn't know about EVs, it's that both working together should be able to produce a working mass production product in less time.

Tesla has been making great progress in drivetrains; the AC-150 system has gone to 200 kW (268 HP) while getting smaller in size and probably cheaper. New tech like silicon carbide thyristors will slash cooling demands and make packaging simpler while increasing lifespan.

Going from a Lotus chassis to a Toyota chassis implies huge strides toward an electric car anyone can own. The only remaining element is the battery, and there are enough options there that I don't expect any show-stoppers.

"Actively utilizing Tesla’s technologies..."

There is the aspect of patents. Ford had to licence some from Toyota for the Escape and it is possible Toyota would like the motor technology developed by A.C. Propulsion on the Tzero.

Toyota is wisely understanding that in the field of EV design things are moving VERY fast. Far faster than stodgy old Toyota and its conservative culture can accommodate.

This move is a purchase of the superior innovation power found in entrepreneurial companies like Tesla. Without this JV Toyota would still be worrying about battery pack safety issue - pushing their first BEV off to 2015.

Ah ha! I thought so; a JV using Tesla's drive line and experience and Toyota's factory and production know how. It's not that Toyota doesn't know about EVs, it's that both working together should be able to produce a working mass production product in less time.

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