Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp. are considering the option of building battery-powered RAV4 sport-utility models at the US automaker's California plant. Gilbert Passin, Tesla's vice president of manufacturing, confirmed that the company is in talks with Toyota and asks that people “stay tuned.”
Toyota, which bought a $50 million stake in Tesla this year, said last July it would develop an electric version of the compact RAV4 SUV with its new affiliate -- obtaining batteries, motors and other components from the Silicon Valley startup.
In Tesla’s filing earlier this month, it indicated that Toyota had agreed to pay it $60 million to develop components for the project. Mike Michels, a US spokesman, said that Toyota has not yet revealed where the electric RAV4 will be built and how many it expects to sell when the model arrives in 2012, said.
Toyota has said it will show a prototype version of the model at the Los Angeles auto show next month.
Tesla, which is also partially owned by Daimler AG, has already been providing battery packs for electric versions of Daimler's Smart minicar and Mercedes A-Class small car.
In an interview at the California plant, J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer, said that Tesla's supply arrangement for the electric RAV4 “will be far more extensive.” It includes batteries, motors, inverters and charging systems. [via autonews - sub. required]