Tesla motors is working for Toyota. The Californian company is developing an electric version of the Toyota RAV4 SUV. I wrote about it last year, explaining that Tesla will be paid $60 million for this work. I don’t know why, but this amount has been raised. We’re now talking of $100 million. The contract will last till 2014, it’s about complete electric drive trains.
I mean one electric motor with its controller, a transmission with a regenerative system, a battery with its management and cooling system, finally, one charger. Tesla will supply all these parts, but we just don’t know how many of them. Tesla declined to comment. I’ll let you try to figure how many batteries and motors $100 million can buy, what we know is that the cost of fitting the parts in the cars isn’t included. Toyota will perform that work itself on an undisclosed location, and we don’t know either if the shipping costs are included in those $100 million.
Yet I know the electric RAV4s will be built by Toyota, as this was expected. There are many agreements between manufacturers these days, but Toyota isn’t in many of them. All Toyotas are built by Toyota, and it’s incredibly rare to learn of a Toyota with its propulsion system coming from some other manufacturer. In Europe, you could buy a Toyota Aygo with a Peugeot diesel engine, but they stopped making it. Tesla engineers will be proud of having developed a power train that was deemed suitable to use in a Toyota, but I’m sure many Toyota’s engineers will be angry to see a Toyota car with a drive train coming from an outside foreign supplier…
The electric Toyota RAV4 should be available in late 2012, in the United States. I don’t think there’s any plan to market it anywhere else.