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Toyota announced that it couldn’t keep the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. production facility open after General Motors pulled out of the joint production facility. Toyota, however, has struck a deal to reopen the plant with Tesla and will produce electric vehicles at the facility beginning in 2012.
Tesla and Toyota will leverage each manufacturer’s strengths — Toyota’s size, engineering resources, and supplier base, and Tesla’s small, fast product development and electric vehicle technology — to create a team of electric vehicle specialists. Toyota will gain knowledge of newer lithium-ion battery technology as Tesla already has a partnership with Panasonic for the technology, and Tesla will learn how to efficiently put vehicles into mass production.
“I sensed the great potential of Tesla’s technology and was impressed by its decision to monozukuri (Toyota’s approach to manufacturing),” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota. “Through this partnership, by working with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision making, and flexibility that Tesla has.
“Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.”
Tesla’s Model S sedan will likely be the first vehicle to go into production at the facility when it launches in 2012. Tesla estimates production volumes of around 20,000 units per year and it will likely be joined by platform derivatives and possibly the Roadster. Toyota also has plans to put an electric vehicle into production in 2012, but has not said any more.
In addition to working together on electric vehicle development, Toyota said it will buy into Tesla. Toyota is set to invest $50 million in Tesla in exchange for common stock once Tesla completes its IPO.
“Toyota is a company founded on innovation, quality, and commitment to sustainable mobility. It is an honor and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Toyota would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla,” said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. “We look forward to learning and benefiting from Toyota’s legendary engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise.”
Do you think the Tesla/Toyota tie-up is a solid one? Which automaker stands to benefit more from the deal? Will the relationship be successful? Let us know in the comments section below.
Source: Tesla, Toyota
We’ve already reported on Toyota and Tesla Motors forming a partnership to develop electric vehicles, but now we’ve learned a little more about the program. According to an official release from Toyota, the two are working together to build a fleet of electric RAV4 compact SUVs, which are due to hit the market in the next two years.
The official announcement is billed as the first of several “updates” on the project promised by Toyota Motor Company president Akio Toyoda. According to Toyoda’s statement, the first prototype of the new RAV4 EV has been completed and is currently undergoing a battery (no pun intended) of tests. Ultimately, the prototype will be the crest of a wave as Toyota and Tesla plan on building a fleet of the electric compact SUVs. According to the automaker, the first next-generation RAV4 EV will be pushed into the consumer market in 2012.
Toyota hopes the liason with Tesla, which was formally inked back in May, will help it develop, produce, and manufacture electric vehicles in a short time frame. In a very NUMMI-like twist, Tesla hopes to learn the ways of Toyota’s manufacturing process and gain from its engineering expertise, while Toyota reportedly aims to capitalize on Tesla’s “daring spirit,” along with its EV technology.
As previously reported, the RAV4 EV will utilize a lithium-ion battery pack supplied by Tesla, but officials at both companies have refrained from releasing more details on the new vehicle. Likewise, we haven’t heard any more information surrounding another electric vehicle, which has been reported to be based upon the Lexus RX.
Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the program in Toyota’s next update. Should all go well, look for the second iteration of the RAV4 EV to reach consumers in about two years.