• Jul 11th 2010 at 1:09PM
  • 19
AutoblogGreen had the rare opportunity on Friday to chat with Toyota CEO and president Akio Toyoda where he revealed a prototype vehicle with a Tesla electric drive unit was under construction. Tesla CTO JB Straubel has now told CNN Money that the Silicon valley company is preparing two mule vehicles for Toyota. Tesla battery packs, power electronnics and motors are being installed into Toyota bodies.

Straubel expects to deliver the vehicles to Toyota by the end of July. Toyota officials have told ABG that the initial plan is to just test the performance and durability of the Tesla packs to determine if they will meet Toyota standards. If Toyota proceeds with a production program using a Tesla-style battery (using small laptop type cells) it will be for a new vehicle, not the iQ-based EV arriving in 2012.

[Source: CNN Money]


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  • 19 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      No. When the market is saturated, then competition hurts the competitors. But right now, it benefits all who's in the EV business to grow the market (which has tremendous potential), and Toyota being in it only grows the market for everyone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The companies may be attempting to merge their sourcing, and as such, they are attempting to come up with an overall best solution out of the tech currently available.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm not sure Tesla cares if Toyota or Daimler really want to build a car on their power train or not. These deals provides tons of positive publicity and cash in the coffers (50M each time). Honda, Kia & Mazda should pitch in too.

      Also, I think that the Tesla battery pack is more advanced than people give them credits for. So far after 2 years they are holding up pretty well in the Roadster and the prices of the cells are coming down as their energy density is going up - just like Tesla predicted.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Tesla-style packs ... make no sense for any company who can afford to buy in large enough quantities of packs to make one from custom or semi-custom cells."

      Ok, which other car makers have a 200 mile range electric car in production?

      Saying a non-existant product is better than an existing product doesn't give you a whole lot of credibility. Sorry.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If I recall correctly, the last time I saw an in-depth look at the Tesla battery components they reminded me of a few hundred Black and Decker screwdriver batteries packed in boxes, stacked on one another and neatly packed in the rear of the car. Maybe something a bit more technical is going on, but I don't think Tesla is on the cutting-edge of anything at the moment. Not to mention their cash cow, the Roadster is failing to sell and will be ending soon according to their latest release.

        @whynot - "Every company with a $100,000 electric car has 200 mile range."

        The funny part of this statement is the "$100,000 electric car". At what point did the Tesla say "Wow, I bet we can sell 100-150 units a month and maybe even make a profit".

        EVs such as this are "neat" and I applaud the effort but the automotive industry is a business and businesses are profit driven. Then again EM might want to convert Telsa to a 501 Non-profit and make cars using Gov grant money. It isn't like the shareholders/investors are going to stick around much longer anyways.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @JBarnett

        "At what point did the Tesla say "Wow, I bet we can sell 100-150 units a month and maybe even make a profit"."

        Never. That was never their plan. The plan for the roadster was to raise awareness of electric cars and prove that if you build them, people will buy them. And guess what, now nearly every auto company is bringing a mass-market EV to fruition. That sounds like a successfully completed goal to me...

        If they don't make any money on the Model S, then you can criticize them for failing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Every company with a $100,000 electric car has 200 mile range.

        Right now, that's just Tesla. If another company wanted to put an equally large, equally expensive pack in their car, they would have it too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Won't this hurt Tesla in the long run? Having toyota as a potential competitor...
        • 5 Years Ago
        No. When the market is saturated, then competition hurts the competitors. But right now, it benefits all who's in the EV business to grow the market (which has tremendous potential), and Toyota being in it only grows the market for everyone.

        (sorry for #18, I meant to reply)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or a potential client. It is not uncommon for companies to cooperate when it benefits both parties, even, in some cases, when they are competitors. After all, Toyota and GM cooperated in operating the NUMMI plant for years, it only ended when GM got into serious financial trouble.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Tesla-style packs make no sense for Toyota. They make no sense for any company who can afford to buy in large enough quantities of packs to make one from custom or semi-custom cells.

      I'm glad Toyota is going to get some more mules and learn more about EVs on the street. But it is exceedingly unlikely that they would use Tesla packs for anything but prototypes or very short-run modes (like the BMW MINI EV).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Folks.
        There's no mention whatsoever wether they use roadster packs.
        For all we know they could be those that'll go into the Model S, or a prototype pack we don't even know about.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks Jake. I hope LS2LS7 do some googling before responding to back up his statements.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The SMART EV is using Tesla packs right now. Maybe Tesla is selling them for a reasonable price? ...
        • 5 Years Ago
        The laptop battery cells from Panasonic (that Tesla plan to use) has energy density of 237 Wh/kg. The large format cells in Nissan Leaf has 140 Wh/kg. 70% more energy will translate to lighter and more range.

        Tesla patented a technique to manage thousands of cells reliably. It also enabled the fast charge capability without additional hardware (extra cost for Leaf) by reusing existing components from the regen brake.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "They make no sense for any company who can afford to buy in large enough quantities of packs to make one from custom or semi-custom cells."

        Volume and economies of scale. Since there are far more uses of an 18650 cell than just electric cars there is a healthy competitive market for them keeping the price relatively low.

        There is not enough of a competitive electric car market yet to make larger formats economical in price even though they may gain some efficiency. Some day that will likely change, but that day is not here yet. It is reasonable for Toyota to investigate the Tesla method as a stepping stone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Higher volume to casing ratio isn't the only consideration. You also have to consider lithium cobalt has higher theoretical density than lithium manganese. Also, the 18650 cell has more than a decade of development in it, with constant improvements to satisfy the consumer market. In contrast, most of the large format cells for BEVs were developed in the last couple of years, so it may take some time for those cells to catch up in density.

        Tesla's pack easily has the highest density, even with all the thermal management (the only figure missing is for the Volt). With the 3.1ah cells from Panasonic, Tesla will likely pull even further ahead. Toyota has a joint venture with Panasonic, and since Tesla is sourcing cells from Panasonic anyways, it makes sense for Toyota to consider Tesla packs.
        http://www.teslamotors.com/roadster/technology/battery

        Eventually, the large format packs might overtake in terms of density (and likely cost), but it is no where near that point yet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Graham:
        Economies of scale peter out after a while. There's not a huge advantage to making 10M of something over 1M of something. You're down close to material costs in both cases.

        usbseawolf:
        No, just no. Big cells and small cells are made the same way. The higher volume to casing ratio of the big cells mean they will have higher energy density than smaller cells do.

        Tesla's system makes sense if you are going to make 1,000 cars. If you are going to make 100,000 it doesn't.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe TESLA will be for Toyota, an electric version of what Abarth is to Fiat.
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