Tesla and Toyota: Electric Car Marriage Made in Heaven?

Electric cars — By Stephanie on May 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm
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Tesla and Toyota to join forces on electric cars (image from Spencer T on Flickr)

This week, the electric car dreams of many Americans appeared to be coming true.  While the Tesla 100% Electric Roadster is currently one of the only viable EVs on the road right now, the price tag is a bit too steep for most of us.

But hold your electric horses…. Tesla Motors has announced they will partner with Toyota to build a car factory in Downey City, California.

Governor Schwarzenegger enthused:

“We love our cars in California and California loves cars! But we also love our environment and the coastline. This all happened because we created tax incentives for this company and this partnership.”

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Could Toyota be going 100% electric soon? (image from David (Standout) on Flickr)

Last year, reports criticized Toyota for not planning a 100% electric car.  Now, it has just closed a deal for purchasing a $50 million stake in Tesla.  In exchange, Tesla is purchasing New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMM) from Toyota.  A jointly owned factory between Tesla and Toyota will be sited across the San Francisco Bay in Fremont.

It could be a win-win-win electric car marriage for Tesla, Toyota and the car-buying public.  Toyota has some positive news on which to focus, Tesla can get some traction in the mid-range priced vehicle range, and consumers can benefit from the joined expertise of two well-known, revered auto manufacturers.

While the Tesla 100% electric vehicle is as hot as it is green, people have shied away from the sticker-shock of the high performance vehicle.  But currently, its the only company building viable EVs for U.S. freeways.  With its new affiliation with Toyota, Tesla is aiming to create a more affordable EV model.  The two companies will be working on developing electric vehicle parts and production systems that will be incorporated into new Toyota electric cars.

Whether the new electric car venture between Tesla and Toyota will result in a plug-in Prius or better marketing of the Toyota RAV4 EV (or some as yet to be developed electric Toyota) remains to be seen.  One thing is for certain, however – Toyota is not resting on its green hybrid laurels any longer.

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Toyota's RAV4 EV (image from Mike Weston on Flickr)

Consumers have indicated they would prefer an EV from Toyota than from GM or Nissan (sorry Volt and LEAF).  Looks like the company is finally plugging into its marketing research!

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