Though the three-year, $100 million battery deal between Tesla and Toyota is coming to an end, the Japanese automaker wants to keep its options open. For all the bravado Toyota has displayed in its push for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, it isn’t ready to cut ties with Tesla entirely.
This isn’t exactly industry-rocking news, as Tesla still shares half of the NUMMI facility with Toyota, and the battery deal seemed to deliver a well-built, long-range compliance car that occupies a unique niche in the market. When the two first signed the deal to deliver 2,600 battery packs for the Toyota RAV4 EV in 2011, some saw it as the start of something bigger. Three years later though, and Tesla needs every battery it can build for its own products, while Toyota is making a play at hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The two companies obviously have differing visions for the future, but that doesn’t mean the two won’t cross paths again.
Talking to Automotive News, CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing in North America Osamu Nagata said that Tesla;
“…has quite a clear business strategy for developing a better battery. [Automakers] as well as suppliers need to work on developing better batteries.”
Toyota’s CEO of North America Jim Lentz sees EVs as limited-use vehicles in short range, urban situations…you know, the kinds of places an increasing number of human beings are moving back to. But whereas Lentz is bullish on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Nagata seems a bit more cautious, saying;
“I hope we can show the very strong capabilities of fuel cell vehicles so we can convince more and more people of the potential and possibilities of the fuel cell vehicle.”
He’ll need more than hope to sell the idea that hydrogen is somehow cheaper and more convenient than filling up an electric car in your home garage with low-cost (or even free!) electricity. With the number of hydrogen fueling stations in America totaling a few dozen, Toyota had better keep Tesla’s number on speed dial.
Source: Automotive News