General Motors opted out of its New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. joint production facility with Toyota last year, and without GM, Toyota decided the plant wasn’t efficient enough to keep open. Tesla and Toyota, however, announced plans to cooperatively build electric vehicles at the plant.
Tesla and Toyota will leverage each manufacturer’s strengths — Toyota’s size, engineering resources, and supplier base and Tesla’s small, fast product development and electric vehicle technology — to create a team of electric vehicle specialists. Toyota will gain knowledge of newer lithium-ion battery technology as Tesla already has a partnership with Panasonic for the technology and Tesla will learn how to efficiently put vehicles into mass production.
“I sensed the great potential of Tesla’s technology and was impressed by its decision to monozukuri (Toyota’s approach to manufacturing),” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota. “Through this partnership, by working with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the challenging spirit, quick decision making, and flexibility that Tesla has.
“Decades ago, Toyota was also born as a venture business. By partnering with Tesla, my hopes is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.”
Tesla’s Model S sedan will likely be the first vehicle to go into production at the facility when it launches in 2012. Tesla estimates production volumes of around 20,000 units per year and it will likely be joined by platform derivatives and possibly the Roadster. Toyota also has plans to put an electric vehicle into production in 2012, but has not said any more.
In addition to working together on electric vehicle development, Toyota said it will buy into Tesla. Toyota is set to invest $50 million in Tesla in exchange for common stock once Tesla completes its IPO.
“Toyota is a company founded on innovation, quality, and commitment to sustainable mobility. It is an honor and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Toyota would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla,” said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. “We look forward to learning and benefiting from Toyota’s legendary engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise.”
Source: Tesla, Toyota