What is it? Toyota revealed the first fruit of its partnership with Tesla Motors at the 2010 LA Auto Show in form of an electric RAV4. This past May, the two auto companies announced a formal relationship, with Toyota investing $50 million in the small electric-car company and promising cooperation on vehicles, components, and production. In return, Tesla would bring its expertise and Silicon Valley culture to the giant automakers EV development. This is a natural pairing, as Telsa owns the former NUMMI factory in Fremont, California, that had long served as a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors.
Toyota has built electric RAV4s in the past as developmental vehicles and more recently as limited fleet vehicles for research and development. This new RAV4 EV promises to be the first mass-market pure-electric vehicle from Toyota offered in the United States. By targeting the popular small SUV market, Toyota avoids direct competition from the much ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus, and Nissan Leaf, which will all beat the RAV4 EV to showrooms.
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