Tesla Motors, Inc. (Tesla) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) today announced that the two companies will start the development of an electric version of the RAV4, which will be available in the U.S. by 2012.
The electric cute-ute will be made from the existing RAV4 with a Tesla electric powertrain substituted for the gasoline one.
Tesla claims it will deliver prototypes to Toyota for evaluation within this year. The first prototype has already been built and is now undergoing testing.
In May, Elon Musk of Tesla and Akio Toyoda of TMC announced their intent to cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, and production system and engineering support.
Upstart Tesla wants to learn from Toyota’s engineering, manufacturing, and production expertise, while automotive superpower Toyota says it will learn from Tesla’s EV technology, quick decision-making and flexibility.
Some industry insiders think that the joint program is nothing more than an image cleaning effort by Toyota after it shut its only unionized plant in the U.S. this past spring – New United Motors Manufacturing in Fremont, California. (See UAW Taking Aim at Toyota )