Toyota and Tesla, a Match Made In Electric Heaven?

At first glance, Toyota and Tesla don’t have a whole lot in common. The former is the world’s largest automaker, while the latter is a small, electric car-only company that only recently surpassed delivering its 1,000th car. But both companies have a lot of green cred; Toyota for its best-selling Prius, Tesla for being the first company to successfully build and globally market a modern electric car. Soon, the two may have even more in common.

California Governor Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger was speaking this morning at a Google event, when he let slip that Tesla and Toyota will be building electric cars. Together. Whaaa?

The Tesla Roadster is without a doubt a successful car, even though it has thus far been sold in small numbers. But the $100,000 price tag and two seats has limited the market and practicality of the car. Tesla has been promising that, by 2012, it will be building and delivering the Model S electric sedan, which should be priced around $50,000. But analysts have commented that they lack both a production facility and experience in building a mass market sedan. Enter Toyota.

There are no details available yet, as apparently the Governator let this slip before he was supposed to. But he is attending a meeting with Tesla executives tonight to announce an announcement…which he let slip early. Apparently Toyota and Tesla will build electric cars, together, in California. The likely (though as-yet-unconfirmed) location of a joint building facility would be the recently shuttered NUMMI factory, which Toyota once shared with GM. Toyota caught a lot of flack for pulling out of NUMMI (though GM did too), and a lot of people were put out of work. Downey Councilman Mario Guerra said that is where the two will build cars, but again, no confirmation… yet.

Tesla has been looking for a production facility, and Toyota has probably been looking for an electric car partner to help it make up for lost ground against Nissan, GM, Mitsubishi and Ford. In all likelihood a jointly-built vehicle will be shared between both companies. I’m not the biggest Toyota fan… but this is a smart move on their part, and it would certainly be beneficial for Tesla. GM should have made a move on Tesla when they had the chance.

Source: San Francisco Gate


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.