31.3.2021Toyota and Tesla negotiating joint development of electric SUV
Global automobile brands Tesla and Toyota are reportedly in negotiations over the joint development of a platform for a small electric SUV. Talks on the joint venture began in 2020 and are said to be nearing their final stages, according to a South Korean media report.
Reported by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo and referencing a source in the Japanese car industry, Toyota will apparently contribute the vehicle platform, while Tesla will cover the software and electronics, combining the respective strengths of the two companies: low-cost vehicle production in large quantities, and software and electric drive systems.
The report only mentions the vehicle platform and the “electronic control platform and software technology”. The batteries, an important cost factor especially for low-cost electric vehicles, are not mentioned. Tesla is about to enter battery production with the 4680 cells, but is also working with cell suppliers such as Panasonic, LG Chem and CATL. Toyota cooperates with CATL, BYD and maintains the joint venture Prime Planet together with Panasonic.
Although unconfirmed, the model could apparently emerge with a price tag of $25,000. According to the source, Toyota wants to benefit from “Tesla’s IT capabilities”. Precisely which functions are involved is not clear, nor whether Toyota wants to use Tesla technology in its own vehicles.
Toyota has long focused on its hybrids (advertised as “self-charging”) and fuel cell vehicles. However, Toyota Group is now also planning battery-electric vehicles, such as the Lexus UX300e. Toyota has further developed its TNGA platform for electric drive systems, and is also developing a platform for electric SUVs together with Subaru.
Toyota and Tesla have previously collaborated in 2012, when they created an electric RAV4. The Japanese company sold its last Tesla shares at the end of 2019.