Charging up the future of zero-emission electric cars, a deal aligns the much-hyped Tesla Motors with the world’s largest auto maker. Last week, Tesla announced that Toyota Motor Corporation is officially entering into an alliance with the small California electric car builder through a pledge to purchase $50 million dollars in stock.
Beyond financial assistance, Tesla Motors has secured a deal with Toyota Motor Corporation of North America to move into the recently-idled Fremont, California plant. The Fremont manufacturing facility was previously home to the General Motors-Toyota cooperative called NUMMI which had concluded production of the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix. Securing the manufacturing, Tesla Motors is setting lofty plans for their upcoming Model S sedan. Compared to Tesla’s popular EV Roadster which is being produced at an average of roughly 500 cars a year, the electric car maker plans to produce up to 20,000 Model S sedans a year from the plant. “The new Tesla Factory will give us plenty of room to grow.” Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk optimistically looks ahead for the start of the Model S production in 2012. Since the Fremont manufacturing facility is estimated to handle up to half a million units, Tesla Motors is planning for overwhelming demand for their Model S and any other future vehicle rolling out of the plant.
Even with the new alliance, Tesla Motors faces a uphill battle with modern American automotive history. Since the second world war, the Detroit 3 held a stranglehold on the North American domestic market. Through the past 65 years, the best efforts of American car building entrepreneurs have come up well-short of simple survival. Once promising like Tesla Motors, past upfront auto companies such as Tucker, Kaiser-Frazer, and Bricklin were all dedicated bringing innovative products to market. Unfortunately, those past companies would each attempt expansion way too early and eventually found themselves producing more debt than vehicles.
Partnering with the Toyota Motor Corporation could be one of the brightest move for the electric car producer’s long-term survival. In little more than 50 years inside the U.S., Toyota grew from a niche auto brand to the number one in overall vehicle sales. Included in a joint statement, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda expresses a sense of potential from the up and coming auto maker starting from similar corporate roots. “By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business spirit,’ and take on the challenges of the future.”