Already partnering with German giant Daimler AG, the aggressive little California battery car maker, Tesla Motors, has just jumped into bed with another major automaker. This time, it will partner with Toyota and take over the plant the Japanese company was abandoning in the suburbs of San Francisco.
Toyota plans to invest $50 million in Tesla, which was founded by the Internet billionaire Elon Musk. The State of California, meanwhile, will provide tax abatements worth another $20 million to help support Tesla’s takeover of the old NUMMI assembly line – which Toyota originally operated in partnership with General Motors.
The facility will be used to produce Tesla’s second product line. With production of the original Roadster winding down, the Silicon Valley start-up is getting ready to launch a sedan it has dubbed the Model S, starting sometime in 2012.
“I sensed the great potential of Tesla’s technology and was impressed by its dedication to monozukuri (Toyota’s approach to manufacturing),” said TMC President Akio Toyoda, explaining the decision to partner with the small battery car maker. “Toyota was also born as a venture business,” he added, suggesting that, “By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.”