Tesla and Toyota have worked together on Toyota's recent version of the RAV4 EV. Tesla basically took care of the powertrain, while the rest was based on Toyota's gasoline-powered RAV4. But sadly, the RAV4 EV was only made in small numbers (2,600 units for the first 3 years) and only sold in California, mostly because regulators asked for a certain minimum number of zero-emission vehicles.
Was this just a prelude to something bigger? Elon Musk has just dropped hints that a "significant" project between Tesla and Toyota could see the light of day within 2 or 3 years, and this time, it would be for a vehicle made in larger numbers than the RAV4 EV.
Musk said there were no concrete plans for a new vehicle with Toyota but dangled the possibility of a bigger project soon.
“I think that if you look out maybe two or three years from now, that I would not be surprised if there is a significant deal with Toyota,” Musk said today at a ceremony to deliver the first Tesla Model S sedans to customers in Japan.
“My best guess is that it would probably be something significant, maybe on a much higher volume level,” he said.(source)
Nothing really concrete here, but knowing how these things work, I don't think Musk would have even mentioned it if he wasn't fairly certain that a deal could be reached. Why create expectations if you're not fairly sure they can be met?
It would make a lot of sense for Toyota too. While they've been a leader in hybrids for over a decade, they lag in electric vehicles. Why not partner with the leader of the field? Maybe they could make a new Prius model (the Prius E?) that is 100% electric, or make an electric version of some of their best-selling vehicles like the Camry and Corolla?
We also have to remember that Toyota owns 2.4% of Tesla, so they have a financial incentive (not a huge one for a company the size of Toyota, but still) in helping our the smaller company.
Via Automotive News