In a deal that looks like it will boost the expertise of both companies, Toyota and Tesla Motors have agreed to jointly develop an electric RAV4 and possibly other models.
Tesla has become the leader in, if not all-electric car technology, then electric car technology with serious curb appeal – something that the big auto makers generally lack. Toyota, aside for the debacles of the past year or so, is a longstanding leader of quality products and especially profit-maximizing efficiency across all industries – something the delivery-challenged startup Tesla could use some help with.
Something in me would have liked Tesla to say on its own and become a dominant auto maker of the future, rather than slowly become part of one of the existing behemoths. It’s good to see idealistic, innovative companies angle to take over the world. But it is hard to deny that this move makes sense all around. All mega-corporations need the occasional infusion of idealism and energy and, while corporate bureaucracy often slows and even kills the startups that get swallowed, Tesla can benefit greatly from Toyota’s backing, expertise, customer base and business savvy. We’ll have to wait and see whether the maker of the Roadster gets digested or boosted by its partnership with Toyota.