TOYOTA and Tesla Motors announced that the two companies would develop an electric version of the RAV4 back in May of this year. With an aim to market the EV in the United States in 2012, prototypes will be made combining the Toyota RAV4 model with a Tesla electric powertrain
"This is a test fleet," Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer, told reporters during a conference call late Tuesday. "The initial phase is in the couple thousand-unit range."
The news comes less than a week before the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker is scheduled to display a prototype of the battery-electric RAV 4 at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. Just where the production model will be built and how much it will costs has not been divulged.
Toyota bought a $50 million stake in Tesla earlier this year and soon after the two companies agreed to collaborate on an electric RAV4, with Toyota paying $60 million for Tesla's contribution. At least two prototypes have been assembled at Tesla's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Tesla-made RAV4 EVs won't be the first RAV4 EVs to be made. Toyota made and leased an all-electric version of the popular RAV 4 from 1997 to 2003, and at the lessees' request, many units were sold after the vehicle was discontinued. Approximately 800 are still in use today.