Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks. You'd think that in a partnership between an industry veteran and a relative newcomer, the latter would typically learn from the former. However, while working together to create the second-generation all-electric RAV4 EV, it seems that Toyota, the long established Japanese automaker is surprisingly adopting some of the ways of its American collaborator, Tesla. According to Greg Bernas, Toyota's chief engineer for the joint RAV4 venture, "We are learning from each other... Hopefully we can collaborate to improve our (development) process in the future (by adopting the flexibility of Tesla)."
Toyota Technical Center USA president Shigeki Terashi was very impressed with Tesla's quick work pace – the first prototype RAV4 EV was developed in a mere three weeks. According to The Sacramento Bee, Tesla engineers have a wide range of authority and so are able to reach important decisions quite quickly. On the other hand, the Toyota engineers' responsibilities are very compartmentalized, which causes them to come to decisions much slower. This is something Toyota is now trying to change as a result of their experience working with Tesla. Another approach Tesla has shown Toyota in order to get results faster is to jump right into development and working out the kinks as they go along rather than creating detailed plans before development is even begun. Toyota's willingness to stray from its traditional workflow will give the RAV4 EV a chance to compete for a piece of the EV market share against the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The RAV4 EV is expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships in 2012.