Toyota will invest fifty million dollars in electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla. With this win-win partnership, Toyota will gain access to Tesla's technology expertise, and Tesla will produce and sell their cars in the mass m


Tesla is a Californian company founded in 2003 and managed by Elon Musk (co-founder of PayPal). This startup launched the first pure electric vehicle in 2006: the Tesla Roadster. Going from 0 to 60 MPH in 4 seconds, this high performance electric sports car is able to compete with famous sports brands such as Lamborghini or Ferrari. That’s why Tesla is recognized as the first startup to legitimize the electric engine in automotive world. This technology also delivers 100 miles per gallon.

It seems that all of these innovative solutions interested Toyota. After being the first manufacturer of a hybrid vehicle, the Japanese brand wants to focus its strategy on electric vehicles. Akio Toyoda, Toyota President, said he was very “impressed by Tesla’s technology.” Indeed, Tesla is currently the only company which produces and sells only electric vehicles able to drive highway speeds.

Thanks to this alliance, these companies will produce EVs on a large scale. The first will be the Model S, a family car which is scheduled to go on sale in 2012. The Model S is designed to travel as far as 300 miles with about a three to five hour charge. Production will occur in a California factory, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Built in 1960, the NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc) was GM’s property. But because of the economic crisis, the giant Detroit brand sold it two years ago to Toyota.

By joining forces with Tesla, Toyota highlights two different ideas. First of all, hybrid technology is not enough to solve problems caused by automobiles. The next step will be electric vehicles, even if methods of general implementation are not clearly obvious. Secondly, it is proactive to control technology within a competitive market. With Tesla, Toyota hopes to be back in the EV market.

By Romain Chapron