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A Tesla-Toyota Partnership Might Be in the Works

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Toyota and Tesla may pair up to jointly develop an electric vehicle platform, according to a report this week by Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea's top three daily newspapers.

Citing a Japanese auto industry official, the newspaper reported that Toyota and Tesla have been in talks since last year and are about to enter the final phase of their discussions.

The talks are said to be centered on a plan that would see Toyota bring its engineering know-how to the table, with Tesla's expertise in software and control systems for electric powertrains the other half of the deal. The goal would be development of a new platform that would be used for a smaller SUV.

And for those who might be surprised to see these two companies linked together, this actually isn't the first time there’s been talk of such a partnership. Toyota was one of Tesla's first shareholders, but divested itself in 2016. The Japanese giant also launched an electric RAV4 in 2012, and it used a powertrain supplied by Tesla.

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What's not clear is whether the new platform being talked about is the one Tesla intends to use for an electric vehicle that would cost just $25,000 USD. At a presentation last fall, Tesla boss Elon Musk said that reducing the cost of battery cells would allow the company to deliver a vehicle at that price.

Toyota, of course, is behind the curve when it comes to full electrification, having focused much of its efforts on hybridity and hydrogen until now. It is now moving on that front, however, and is even expected to present some new all-electric models soon. In fact, it has committed to launching at least 10 electrified vehicles in the first half of the decade, including those from its luxury division, Lexus.

The first of those electric models will be a compact SUV that will also be offered by Subaru, another long-time Toyota dance partner. It should be unveiled later this year.

Tesla Model S
Photo: Tesla
Tesla Model S