Toyota and Tesla strike $50m electric car deal

Published: 21 May 2010

Toyota today agreed to buy a $50 million stake in Tesla Motors, the Californian electric car start-up. The two companies plan to cooperate on electric vehicles, batteries and other EV technology.

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But Tesla's tiny! Why would giant Toyota want to buy into a minnow?

Seems that Tesla really does have ideas and practices that is interesting the major players. It already has a deal in place with Daimler, but Toyota plans to introduce pure EVs by 2012 and is now keen to tap into Tesla's knowledge.

Toyota has already sold around 2.5m hybrids since 1997. Tesla operates on a slightly smaller scale: it's sold just over 1000 Roadsters in North America, Europe and Asia since launch.

Toyota-Tesla deal: the bosses speak

'I sensed the great potential of Tesla's technology and was impressed by its dedication to monozukuri [Toyota's approach to manufacturing],' said Toyota president Akio Toyoda. 'Through this partnership, by working together with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision-making, and flexibility that Tesla has. Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that venture business spirit, and take on the challenges of the future.'

Tesla founder Elon Musk said: 'Toyota is a company founded on innovation, quality, and commitment to sustainable mobility. It is an honour and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Toyota would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla. We look forward to learning and benefiting from Toyota's legendary engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise.'

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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