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Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars

Toyota investment gives economy of scale to build EVs

Analysts say Toyota’s $50 million in Tesla Motors makes for both companies. Already, the is pregnant with possibilities. an in-depth report on the partnership and in it for both companies and the consumers.

by Anthony Verducci

NASDAQ, known as the marketplace for companies in Silicon Valley, added to its index on June 29 when Motors sold 13.3 shares at $17 per share, raising over $226 million in the Alto car company s initial offering. Interest was so great Tesla increased its planned by 2.1 million shares at the last Investment banks notwithstanding, of the hype surrounding this IPO was due to a single investor: Toyota Company.

A month earlier, Toyoda and Elon Musk. the CEOs of Toyota and Tesla, at a joint press conference Toyota would be purchasing $50 worth of Tesla stock. the presence of such a knowledgeable undoubtedly boosted Tesla s on Wall Street, what it to Toyota was anybody s guess. The benefits to Tesla, including a new and possible access to Toyota s technological resources, are myriad. By its own Toyota spends $1 million per researching and developing technology and systems.

What would the car company on the planet possibly with a bunch of tech from Silicon Valley?

The picture became clearer on 9, when, during an unrelated seminar in Japan, Akio told a group of reporters his company is already developing a that will run on Tesla s technology, which is essentially an motor powered by thousands of batteries. J.B. Straubel, s chief technology officer, up by saying that since our in May, Toyota and Tesla teams have made a lot of in a short amount of time, and it is to start seeing some results.

Those results be unveiled later this according to Tesla communications Ricardo Reyes. Toyota and have signed a joint agreement reaffirming in writing was described at the joint press a few months ago, Reyes Specifically, the partnership will a high-volume Toyota (most a Corolla or a RAV4) with a electric powertrain from

The first driving prototype has been built and is undergoing Reyes says. It will be to the public later this We ll be delivering the first two prototypes [to by the end of the month.

This is meaningful no car company—with the possible exception of (remember the Dodge Tomahawk?)—builds just for the sake of building

What s In it for Toyota?

Jeffrey a professor of industrial and operational at the University of Michigan who has written books about Toyota s system, thinks Tesla be a quick fix to the inherently slow of product development in large car In Toyota s long-held view, says, purely electric are not likely to be viable anytime My initial reaction was that was a great idea for Toyota, he Given their range EVs are aimed at a niche of commuters who own a second car. It certainly sense for Toyota to get involved a manufacturer they don t compete directly, Liker says.

It allows them to participate in the EV rather quickly.

There s the distinct possibility that like any good gambler, is playing the odds and hedging its They re basically working as capitalists, Lumumba Di-Aping, a World Fellow who specializes in energy and climate-change finance, of Toyota s interest in Tesla. seed capital can result in a return on investment, they branding in difficult times, and gain entry to an innovative with a knowledge base ll inevitably tap into. But most Di-Aping says, Toyota that Tesla is not what it to be.

Relative to consumption, Di-Aping the car market—whether on the tiny scale of or Titanic proportions of Toyota—is a subset of a much larger energy.

While Toyota has plenty of experience mass-producing cars, it doesn t have the connection to the U.S. government Tesla already appears to The Department of Energy pledged million in loans to Tesla this year. The IPO raked in $226 million in liquidity.

Aside from gaining publicity in a negative environment massive recalls and Consumer are still fresh wounds), is virtually guaranteed that it won t be its $50 million investment anytime

Others point to Tesla s in EV technology as one of Toyota s possible Toyota has made their in hybrid penetration, so creating a with Tesla, a pure EV saves them a lot of time, Rebecca Lindland, an analyst IHS Automotive, a Lexington, Mass.–based firm. While we may not know for time if Toyota was attracted to for a specific technology, any patented or battery system that take Toyota more 50 hours of concentrated effort to around could be well a $50 million investment.

When you add it all up, $50 is a trivial investment, Liker

What s In it for Tesla?

The key to the Toyota/Tesla is the NUMMI factory in Fremont, which is situated just the Bay from Tesla s powertrain in Deer Park. NUMMI, stands for New United Motor Incorporated, opened in 1984 as a venture between GM and Toyota. closed earlier this making it the only plant in Toyota s 73-year history, a that did not sit well with It s where Toyota showed GM the of building small cars at a otherwise known as the Toyota system, a topic on which Liker has written volumes.

Akio Toyoda was personally they couldn t find a to replace GM at NUMMI, Liker

Tesla already has the personnel in to make the transition to the new factory According to Gilbert Passin, s vice president of manufacturing, who to manage the NUMMI factory for Tesla only purchased a of the NUMMI facility—the central building—which encompasses approximately 5.5 square feet. It s a very big Passin says, and more what we need initially, but we to grow.

It s an investment for the future. future starts soon, Tesla scheduled to move in to its new as early as September of this Prepping a vehicle assembly will begin immediately.

A big to the new Tesla factory is its ability to multiple vehicle lines. built the Corolla, Matrix/Vibe and simultaneously at the old NUMMI facility. The vehicle produced there likely be the Model S sedan, but will be more than room for the Roadster, along a third model line could possibly be shared Toyota.

With a sports car and sedan already in the works, a SUV would give Tesla the model range.

Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars

Tesla has established itself as a pioneer in the vehicle market, but Nissan is to challenge that dominance its mass-market Leaf. The bulk of the of knowledge will flow Toyota to Tesla, Liker They ll put a lot into the relationship in of knowledge and human resources.

Based on past experience, factory] will be a kind of Liker says.

The Bottom

In light of Toyota s year far, any good news is news. In my opinion, the big news have jumped on the opportunity to Toyota every opportunity get, Liker says. It s to bash tiny Tesla, you want to attack its CEO for matters his personal life (as some

Profitability and relatively meager figures aside, the company has at the least succeeded in developing and a highly entertaining electric car in the

Like Nissan, Toyota is than capable of building an car of its own, but it considers EVs to be a niche

As for Tesla s future, Liker is optimistic. For a specialty low-volume in California that charges a Californians are one of their prime he says. Toyota executives use the term ‘makes sense referring to business deals.

If makes sense, they ahead. The other thing does is once they partners, they try to help in any way can. Once you re part of the you re in.

They re committed.

If that turns out to be solid, this could be the deal that Tesla a viable car company. The challenge for Tesla will be to its first car, the Model S, the ground up. The current Roadster is a Elise with an electric so the company didn t have to and validate the myriad systems crash safety, suspension, that make mass-produced so expensive and difficult to produce.

Finally having a dedicated is an asset, but getting a factory up and is no small feat, and as we saw with the promised delivery dates are until customers receive orders.

We ll have to wait and see how plays out over the next two history is littered with car companies that were on dreams. Of course, startups Tucker didn t have the of the largest car company in the world.

published July 14, 2010 on

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Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars


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