BREAKING: Toyota And Tesla Partnering On EV?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
breaking toyota and tesla partnering on ev

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that Toyota will team up with Tesla to “build electric cars in California.” The governor made this shocking revelation at Google’s I/O Conference today, and told reporters [via the Sacramento Bee]

Today is a very exciting day for me because … I am also going over to the Bay Area to talk about Tesla and Toyota forming a partnership, where they take one of the Toyota cars and make them electric. And again, they’re going to do that here in California.

The obvious scenarios involve joint manufacturing at Toyota’s former GM joint-venture plant NUMMI in Fremont, CA, although there has been no confirmation of these or any other details yet. [UPDATE: According to, a Downey, CA city councilman

confirms that Tesla will build the Model S at NUMMI. The Downey City Council had planned to approve a lease deal for a Tesla factory site, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk called to announce that his firm would be setting up shop at NUMMI]

Daimler is Tesla’s only current OEM partner, and it would have right of first refusal on any acquisition offer made for the California EV firm. Cooperation was focused on an EV version of Daimler’s fading Smart city car. Tesla was briefly mooted as a homegrown savior for NUMMI, which Toyota moved to wind down after GM abandoned the JV in bankruptcy last year (production there ceased on April 1 of this year). That suggestion was emphatically rejected by Tesla, for the simple reason that

we need about 500,000 square feet for our plant. NUMMI is 5 million.

Tesla has been expected to announce a production site for its Model S sedan, widely speculated to be located in Southern California. Consideration of a brownfield site in Downey, AC had previously drawn protests, casting Tesla’s 2011 Model S production schedule into doub t.

As the industry leader in hybrid technology, Toyota has always been wary of rushing plug-ins to market, particularly lithium-ion batteries. A plug-in Prius has been tested and talked about for ages, but Toyota’s timeline for series production has always been conservative, especially compared to Nissan’s Leaf and GM’s Volt dashes. Even recent test drives of pre-production Prius PHEVs don’t mention sale dates or prices.

But Toyota’s lithium-ion partnership with Panasonic is clearly the key player here. Though Toyota doesn’t seem keen to make the li-ion leap, Toyota-Panasonic is close to a deal to supply batteries to the now Ford-less Mazda. And look at that: Tesla and Panasonic recently inked a cell-supply deal. This might be starting to make some sense…

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2 of 15 comments
  • 56m65711446 Well, I had a suburban auto repair shop in those days.
  • Dukeisduke Yikes - reading the recall info from NHTSA, this sounds like the Hyundai/Kia 2.4l Theta II "engine fire" recall, since it involves an engine block or oil pan "breach", so basically, throwing a rod:"Description of the Safety Risk : Engine oil and/or fuel vapor that accumulates near a sufficiently hot surface, below the combustion initiation flame speed, may ignite resulting in an under hood fire, and increasing the risk of injury. Description of the Cause :Isolated engine manufacturing issues have resulted in 2.5L HEV/PHEV engine failures involving engine block or oil pan breach. In the event of an engine block or oil pan breach, the HEV/PHEV system continues to propel the vehicle allowing the customer to continue to drive the vehicle. As the customer continues to drive after a block breach, oil and/or fuel vapor continues to be expelled and accumulates near ignition sources, primarily expected to be the exhaust system. Identification of Any Warning that can Occur :Engine failure is expected to produce loud noises (example: metal-to-metal clank) audible to the vehicle’s occupants. An engine failure will also result in a reduction in engine torque. In Owner Letters mailed to customers, Ford will advise customers to safely park and shut off the engine as promptly as possible upon hearing unexpected engine noises, after experiencing an unexpected torque reduction, or if smoke is observed emanating from the engine compartment."
  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”