We're taking this news with a grain of salt for now, but Motor Trend is reporting that Toyota is hard at work on a fully electric supercar. If there's any truth to this report, Toyota President Akio Toyoda was so impressed after a spin in Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster that he immediately green-lit a feasibility study into the electric supercar project.
Toyota has several fingers in a few electric pies. There's the electric car it's working on in-house, in conjunction with Panasonic, using proprietary technology. Then there are two mash-up prototypes that Tesla is building for Toyota, which according to Bloomberg include an electric RAV4 and Lexus RX. According to the report, the crossovers were chosen because they're the best fit for the weight of Tesla's battery pack, which uses 6,831 lithium-ion batteries.
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.
Just a few days back, we glanced over Tesla's amended IPO statement and discovered some well-buried words that suggested that Tesla and Toyota may never work together on the development of an electric vehicles. The words from Tesla actually read, "We have not entered into any agreements with Toyota for any such arrangements, including any purchase orders, and we may never do so."
Like the fantastical Lexus QS you see above? (FYI, it's actually a Tesla Model S with Lexus badging). Any real-world car that blends work from both Tesla Motors and Toyota is unlikely, even though the two companies will be working together to build electric cars at NUMMI. In an amended IPO statement, Tesla revealed the following:
Just a few days ago, we learned of the Tesla-Toyota-NUMMI deal and many immediately rejoiced. It was one of the most exciting moments we've written about in quite some time, and we were admittedly head over heels about it. Now that the initial excitement has waned and some additional details slowly begin to trickle in, we're not quite as ecstatic any more. Why not? It turns out that the deal has lot of contingencies and there's even a possibility that part of the deal might fall through.
When NUMMI closed its doors, 4,700 employees were left stranded without a job. Then, Toyota and Tesla stunned the auto industry with the announced partnership that would bring vehicle assembly back to NUMMI, this time for an electric vehicle project that will benefit both companies. So the natural question, one that's been asked several times already is: what's to become of those former NUMMI employees?