Toyota-Tesla Prototype Expected This Year
We’ll see a prototype of the first electric vehicle to be born of the Toyota-Tesla marriage by the end of the year.
Kyodo News, citing unnamed sources within Toyota, says the two companies will develop a prototype in the coming months. Engineers from Toyota met their counterparts from Tesla earlier this month to discuss the project. They will check the reliability of the batteries to be used in the vehicle and see if the computer control system will work during the developmental period.
“We want to fit Toyota’s existing model with Tesla’s batteries” in the development, an unidentified Toyota executive said, according to Kyodo.
“Exiting model” makes us think Toyota might be considering something like the FT-EV concept (pictured), which is essentially an electrified Toyota iQ microcar. That’s purely speculation because no one at Toyota or Tesla will say what they may or may not be up to. But the FT-EV makes sense because it would provide Toyota with a relatively quick entry into the budding EV market, and it could compete with the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
Toyota, responding to the Kyodo News report, told Bloomberg it does not have a timeline for any vehicles that might result from its partnership with Tesla. Under the partnership announced last month, Toyota sold the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory in Fremont, California, to Tesla for $42 million and promised to buy $50 million worth of stock when Tesla goes public.
The two companies also agreed to work together on an electric vehicle. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said a Toyota featuring a Tesla drivetrain will hit the road before the Tesla Model S sedan, which Tesla says will arrive in 2012.
Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes said he could not comment because the company is in the “quiet period” required by the Securities and Exchange Commission as it prepares to go public.