Tesla-Toyota relationship bears electric fruit
TOKYO, May 13 — The first fruits of the strategic alliance between California-based electric sports car manufacturer Tesla Motors Inc. and Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor Corp. have been unveiled in California.
The all-electric RAV4 EV sports utility vehicle got its first public outing at the 26th International Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles this past week. The vehicle will be available in four Californian cities from late this summer, Toyota official said, with a price tag of US$49,800 (RM149,400).
The car makers are keen to point out, however, that the price drops to US$39,800 when the tax incentives available from the federal government and the state of California are factored in.
The two car firms reached an agreement to collaborate on projects in May 2010, particularly in the area of electric vehicles, components and production systems.
Tesla was behind the development of the lithium-ion battery and, when fully charged, gives the vehicle a range of 160km. The front-wheel drive SUV will have a top speed of 160kph and the companies expect to sell around 2,600 units in the first three years.
The market in the electric vehicle sector, however, is becoming increasingly congested — particularly given the generous incentives available in California.
Toyota has already won worldwide acclaim for its revolutionary Prius plug-in hybrid car, while Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf has also attracted a solid following among environmentally conscious drivers. Not to be outdone, American car manufacturers are also bringing products to market, such as the Chevrolet Volt, made by General Motors Co.
Toyota also plans to release an all-electric vehicle based on the “iQ” ultra-compact car in Japan, North America and Europe before the end of the year.
Initial sales of the RAV4 EV are being limited to Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles and the Bay Area of San Francisco and Orange County, Toyota said. The targeted sales plan is because residents of those areas are reportedly particularly keen on environmental protection efforts. — AFP/Relaxnews