Toyota Motor Corp announced on Saturday that it had sold off its remaining stake in Tesla last year, as the Japanese automaker began to launch its own electric car program.
Toyota initially invested $50 million in 2010 for a 3% stake in the upstart electric car builder that also involved Tesla’s purchase of the Toyota / General Motors NUMMI factory in Fremont. That same factory now employs over 10,000 workers and is expected to produce 500,000 vehicles as early as next year. Toyota divested some of its shares in 2014 with the remainder being sold in 2016 according to Bloomberg.
Japan’s largest carmaker had initially leveraged its ownership stake in Tesla to partner in the development of the battery and powertrain components for its RAV4 EV. Daimler similarly tapped its financial ties to Tesla for the electric powertrain used on the company’s Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive / B250e. The electrified B-Class was similar to the retrofitted Toyota RAV4 EV in that they were both originally built as internal combustion vehicles, but made electric.
Toyota ultimately stopped production of the limited-run RAV4 EV after receiving low demand for the compact SUV. Given the vehicle’s high price point and limited availability, and RAV4 EV sales understandably suffered.
Toyota was known as a leader in green cars, having an early lead in hybrid technology that was driven largely by the success of the Prius. But the company has been slow to bring any significant next generation green vehicles to market for nearly a decade. The Prius has evolved incrementally, but looks increasingly antiquated when placed head-to-head against the recently launched all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla’s upcoming Model 3. The company also invested its R&D efforts in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which it debuted in the Toyota Mirai.
More recently, the automaker has backpedaled plans for hydrogen powered vehicles and shifted its focus onto battery electric cars.
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