Tesla to Conduct Toyotas R&D for Electric RAV4

Oct. 14, 2010
Startup automaker will receive $60 million to develop electric powertrain for SUV

Tesla Motors Inc. will receive approximately $60 million from Toyota Motor Corp. to research and develop an electrical powertrain system for a new version of Toyota’s popular RAV4 crossover SUV, according to information filed with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. Tesla reported the filing was made last week, though the agreement with Toyota has been in place since last summer.

According to Tesla, it will develop a system that includes a battery, power electronics module, motor, gearbox and associated software, but it will not be manufacturing any of the components for Toyota. Some sources indicate Tesla will adapt the battery system already used in its Tesla Roadster luxury sports cars for the new Toyota RAV4.

A previous electric version of the Toyota RAV4 was manufactured from 1997 to 2003. It was a limited volume series used mainly by utilities and governments to comply with local zero-emissions standards, though in the later years of production it was available to the public.

Toyota revealed the prototype of the new RAV4 EV to its dealers last week. It’s due to be available commercially for the 2012 model year. The automaker is the world’s largest manufacturer of hybrid vehicles, but it invested $50 million in Tesla last May in a move to enhance its electric vehicle development program.

The Toyota investment was critical to the success of Tesla’s June initial public offering, which raised $226 million for the fledgling automaker.

At the time of Toyota’s investment, Tesla agreed to buy Toyota’s recently closed New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif. That purchase was completed this month, and Tesla plans to manufacturer its Model S sedan and other electric vehicles there, though it will not be manufacturing the electric RAV4, according to Toyota.

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