Tesla Partnering With Toyota To Provide Powertrain System for the RAV4

Tesla will provide the electric powertrain system (including the battery, charging system, inverter, motor, gearbox and associated software) for the Toyota electric RAV4, according to an SEC filing on July 15, 2011. Tesla will provide Toyota “with certain services related to the supply of the Tesla Battery and Powertrain,” the filing states. Toyota will pay Tesla $100 million. Production of the RAV4 is expected to begin next year and continue through 2014.

The two companies first entered into an agreement in July 2010 and entered into a services agreement in October 2010. Toyota purchased $50 million of Tesla’s stock in a private placement transaction in July 2010.

Tesla is already profiting from the agreement as its shares increased 4.6 percent after disclosing the deal with Toyota.

“It’s a wise strategy to diversify on their part, they’ve built some intellectual property into battery management and drive train technology,” said John Gartner, a senior analyst at cleantech research firm Pike Research. “It’s the return of a vehicle that was interesting to a lot of folks, and the new battery and drive train might make it more attractive.”

A press release by Toyota’s states that the RAV4 “…incorporates Tesla’s streamlined, fast and flexible approach with Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing leadership.” The press release also states:

“A key aspect of the partnership is to establish a new product development model that incorporates Tesla’s streamlined, quick-action approach. Under this new process, Tesla is responsible for supplying the powertrain and related components according to Toyota engineering specifications while Toyota works to seamlessly integrate the powertrain.”

Thirty-five RAV4 vehicles will be built for a demonstration and evaluation program that runs through this year. “A fully-engineered vehicle is targeted to launch in 2012,” the press release says.

Toyota first produced the RAV4 EV in 1997, and 1,484 vehicles were sold or leased in the U.S. According to the press release, “more than half of those are still on the road today.”

Photo from Toyota’s website

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.