Toyota and Tesla Finishing Work on Two EV Prototypes

· · 7 years ago

Tesla and Toyota will finish work on two electric SUV prototypes by the end of this month. Fully-electric Toyota RAV-4 and Lexus RX retrofittings will represent the first tangible products to come out of the surprising relationship between a Japanese automotive Goliath that has remained skeptical about the future of EVs, and a California startup hell-bent on blazing the trail for an electrified transportation future. But what does this announcement mean for consumers who are looking forward to seeing a Toyota/Tesla collaboration in showrooms?

Probably not very much. On his blog, Darryl Siry said today that the early prototypes are a chance for Toyota's engineers to test out Tesla's lithium ion battery technology rather than a step towards the creation of a new vehicle. Siry, who served as Tesla's senior vice president of marketing and sales until 2008, speculates that Toyota's interest in Tesla came from the top—specifically CEO Akia Toyoda—but that for the most part, the company remains unconvinced about the viability of EVs and the lithium ion batteries that power them.

Tesla's ability to produce high-power batteries is no doubt intriguing to Toyota, but in order for a company with the size and scope of the Japanese automaker to truly embrace a potential game-changing technology, engineers and executives alike will have to be fully confident that it is not only cost-effective but reliable. As we saw earlier this year, a single safety flaw that leads to fatal accidents can transform a company with a long reputation for safety and quality into a recurring late night punch line.

Toyota's interest in battery packs dates back to 1996, when it purchased a 40 percent stake in Panasonic EV Energy, a deal that ultimately led to the development of the Toyota Prius' nickel-metal-hydride technology. By 2012, the carmaker is scheduled to bring its first two lithium vehicles to market—a Plug-in Toyota Prius with a 13 mile all-electric range and a small electric city car with an expected range of about 50 miles.

But at this point, Toyota is still officially extremely skeptical that larger lithium ion battery packs are a good play in the near-term. Will the chance to test and play around with Tesla's battery technology change that? Hopefully, but we're unlikely to get any jaw-dropping news about a new jointly produced Toyota/Tesla plug-in vehicle anytime soon.


· · 7 years ago

Tesla S ,Roadster are Great EV Cars,but for for Mass Market appeal the Cost Factor ($$$) is what drives the market.

The Race is on ! Nissan with the New Leaf is pulling ahead unless they stumble with Range and reliability problems.I think the sweet spot will be in the $ 25000 range as Chevy will find with the Volt after early surge,then drop in sells.This above figure does take in the $7500 gov. sub. @ this price and lower with new
Battery tech coming , EV's will take off .

Its easy to talk about what will be,we as Americans and others.its time to do the walk ! Commitment will leave us and our children in a better place.

· Carl H (not verified) · 7 years ago

The Model S, at a cost of $50k (after incentive) is a much better deal than it looks. If you consider the cost differential between electricity and gas and determine how much you will save over the life of the vehicle you will see that this car's true initial cost will come down to somewhere in the 30-37k range, and a LOT of cars are being sold in that range. Once you do that analysis, then compare the features and specs of this car (acceleration) and you have a clear winner as far as I'm concerned. Sure, Tesla could do some "marketing" to make the initial price LOOK more palatable. They could "lease" you the battery, which would reduce the price of the car quite a bit and fool some idiots into believing that it now magically costs less, but the bottom line is what you end up paying and that won't change until production numbers are high enough to justify volume pricing. Plus, with new battery technology coming online, who knows what type of battery replacement I'll be able to get when my first Model S battery needs to be replaced (in 8 or 10 years).

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