Back in 2010, Tesla Motors and Toyota surprised us all with a deal to jointly develop the 2nd Generation Toyota RAV4-EV. Toyota also sold Tesla a factory it wasn’t using, with which Tesla now plans to build a half million EV’s a year in 2020. The resulting vehicle is being distributed only in California, only under limited quantities, making it a Compliance Car. It’s highly desired because of the Tesla drive train, but Toyota built it on the previous RAV4 platform which means the company simply cannot build more of them. Besides, Toyota’s recent statements have been all about Fuel Cell vehicles, and Hybrid vehicles, and have completely downplayed any kind of vehicle with a plug.
The 2nd Generation Toyota RAV4 EV has essentially been discontinued. There are still a few vehicles in the sales pipeline waiting to find buyers, but once those are gone there’ll be no more.
It makes one wonder, just why did Toyota buy a chunk of Tesla if it wasn’t for the companies to collaborate on electric vehicles? It was more than just a matter of Toyota having a spare factory to sell to Tesla. Toyota’s investment into Tesla Motors was approximately the amount which Tesla paid Toyota for the factory. Then two months after that, the companies announced the 2nd Gen RAV4 EV project. Clearly they were thinking “vehicle collaboration”.
Turns out that despite Toyota downplaying plug-in vehicles, and treating the 2nd Gen RAV4 EV as a lost cause, Toyota and Tesla do want to develop further vehicles. The blocking issue is that Tesla is production constrained and even if they had developed a vehicle they couldn’t start manufacturing. That’s what Elon Musk said during the 2014 Shareholders Meeting.
Now, according to a report in Bloomberg News, Elon Musk said in Japan that we should expect another deal between Tesla and Toyota in 2-3 years from now.
What’s going to happen in 2-3 years? Well, the Tesla Gigafactory will be in production, and Tesla will be gearing up for the Tesla Model 3. Tesla will of course appreciate having multiple customers for battery packs produced at the Gigafactory. Any business would love to have diverse income sources, so that the business is more resilient.
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