Family Car Review News

Toyota Motor Corporation and Tesla Motors, Inc. announced today that the two companies will join forces in the development of electric vehicles, parts, production systems and other engineering resources. The announcement came today at a joint news conference attended by Toyota president Aiko Toyoda, Tesla president Elon Musk and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Toyota will invest $50 million in common stock in the electric sports car manufacturer, which has made a name for itself with the Tesla Roadster, a two-seat sports car that runs completely on electric power. Tesla is also buying the now closed New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., which until recently was a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota. Tesla will build its upcoming Tesla S sedan at the plant, along with a new $30,000 electric vehicle and a third vehicle to be developed jointly by Toyota and Tesla.

Toyota is the biggest car company in the world, and it got there through cutting-edge innovations in building cars efficiently and for a reasonable price. Putting the industrial might of Toyota with the engineering smarts of Tesla is a natural fit. Tesla needs investment to grow, and it needs a first-rate manufacturing plant to do it. With its acquisition of the NUMMI plant, Tesla will have its manufacturing facility. Toyota, meanwhile, will be able to tap into Tesla’s engineering, which despite the company’s small size is on the bleeding edge of electric car technology.

Environmental concerns are at the forefront of many buyers these days, with fuel economy more important than ever with consumers. Electric cars have always been one of those things that is always 10 years away…no matter how long ago you asked. However, it really seems like it’s changing this time. The upcoming Chevrolet Volt supplements its electric power with an onboard gasoline generator. The the soon-to-be released all-electric Nissan Leaf is designed strictly as a city car, but Nissan is investing heavily in electric infrastructure to make the transition easy for buyers.

Many other electric cars of all shapes and sizes are in the pipeline from other manufacturers, too. It’s possible that in a few years, electric cars will finally be a reasonable alternative for family car buyers who need wheels, but don’t want to leave a cloud of exhaust behind them. Time will tell, but this move by Tesla and Toyota is a big first step.