Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg that he “would not be surprised” if the two companies entered another partnership two or three years from now. While Tesla and Toyota have no set plans, Musk envisions a project larger than the RAV4 EV.
That’s quite optimistic, considering the results of the first Tesla-Toyota team-up.
Toyota only managed to shift around 2,000 RAV EV electric crossovers in its two years on sale. That’s partly due to the limited scope of sales. The RAV4 EV was only sold in California, largely to comply with the state’s zero-emission vehicle mandate.
However, reports say there were also conflicts between Tesla and Toyota engineers, and the companies have grown apart since the RAV4 EV was launched in 2012.
Toyota has essentially abandoned battery-electric cars for hydrogen fuel cells, a technology Musk has continually mocked.
While other carmakers are increasing electrification, Toyota is also holding fast to non-plug-in hybrids. With “Father of the Prius” Takeshi Uchiyamada installed as chairman of the board, that strategy probably won’t change anytime soon.
Tesla, meanwhile, is in the midst of tripling its lineup with the Model X crossover and Model III sedan, as well as building a huge “Gigafactory” in Nevada to supply that smaller sedan with batteries.
Still, it wouldn’t be prudent to completely rule out another Tesla-Toyota collaboration, as both companies understand the value of a good partnership.
In addition to developing the RAV4 EV’s powertrain, Tesla did similar work for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive.
Toyota, meanwhile, worked with Subaru to get the Scion FR-S into showrooms, and it’s currently collaborating with BMW on a sports car project that could yield a new Supra, and a sportier replacement for today’s BMW Z4.
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