Published on May 21st, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer7
Tesla and Toyota to Collaborate on Building the Affordable Electric Car
May 21st, 2010 by Susan Kraemer
Palo Alto-based Tesla is the only company currently building real four- wheeled electric cars in the US that can go at freeway speeds (and much faster). Its plan has always been to leverage the initial luxury Roadster into funding increasingly affordable models – and it has hit all its goals so far. With a new affiliation with Toyota, Tesla moves one step closer to that goal.
Toyota is investing $50 million in Tesla, and the two will cooperate on developing electric vehicles, parts, production systems and engineering support. California’s Governor Schwarzenegger told the Sacramento Bee some of the details during an environmental event at Google headquarters in Mountain View.
“Today is a very exciting day for me because … I am also going over to the Bay Area to talk about Tesla and Toyota forming a partnership, where they take one of the Toyota cars and make them electric,” Schwarzenegger said.
“And again, they’re going to do that here in California,” he added. “Because in California, we have the laws in place, the laws are consistent and this is why one company after the other is coming into our state and producing those electric cars, and doing innovative stuff with solar, innovative stuff with windmills.”
Till now Toyota has shown very little interest in electric vehicle development, understandably perhaps, preferring to rest on its laurels with the Prius: When you own the market leader in hybrid technology, why rock the boat.
It really dropped the ball on its own original 120 mile range RAV4 EV; developed in response to tough legislation in California, letting the remaining few of these amazing vehicles languish in the hands of Plug-in America EV aficionados like Marc Geller till now. The company never leveraged the goodwill that that vehicle created.
“I guess our problem was, we built too good of an electric vehicle,” is how Toyota national service technology manager Gary Smith famously put it. As far back as 2008, customers were approaching Toyota dealers and making completely unauthorized deposits on prospective EV production. Only after years of pressure from groups like Plug-in America, and numerous conversions has the company begun its own Plug-in Prius test and its first few solar charging stations near its factory.
But perhaps its recent brake troubles have woken up the sleepy giant, which is fortunate.
A recent study found that consumers would still prefer to buy an electric vehicle from Toyota – or Ford or Honda – none of whom are blazing any EV trails – rather than Nissan or GM, who are just coming out with the LEAF, and the Volt, respectively, this year.
Image: RAV4 EV
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