Tesla says Toyota deal on e-cars not formal

New details from an amended IPO registration show that Tesla's recently announced partnership with Toyota isn't based on a written agreement.

Electric carmaker Tesla Motors said says it has not struck a formal deal with Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp to develop electric vehicles.

The California start-up said in Thursday an amended registration statement for an initial public offering that it had "announced an intention to cooperate" with Toyota. "However, we have not entered into any agreements with Toyota for any such arrangements, including any purchase orders, and we may never do so," the filing said. In a stunning move last week, the two companies announced their partnership at Tesla's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., attended by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Toyota chief Akio Toyoda, who flew to the United States for the joint news conference.

But the new details from Tesla cast doubts on the relationship between the companies, which would give the Japanese automaker a chance to repair its public image and propel the California start-up onto the world stage.

Tesla also said in the filing that Toyota's agreement to buy a $50 million stake in the start-up would lapse if its stock is not launched on the public markets by the end of this year.

The carmaker, best known for its $109,000 electric Roadster, said it purchased a plant Toyota closed in the San Francisco area for about $42 million and expects that deal to close within a few months following Tesla's initial public offering.

The deal includes 207 acres, or about 55 percent of the land at the site, but excludes manufacturing equipment, which is likely to be auctioned off over the next several months.

The factory will be used to make the lower-cost Model S electric car , which will have a base price of $49,900 and is expected to be produced in 2012.

The carmaker has been offered $465 million in low-cost loans by the U.S. Department of Energy to help in the manufacturing of the new model.

The plant, previously jointly owned by Toyota and General Motors in a venture called New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI.

Tesla said in the filing that it faces significant challenges in producing the Model S. The carmaker currently only has a drivable early prototype of the Model S, but not a full production-ready prototype or final design, the filing said.

The company also revealed the Model S is likely to be built with batteries that can be swapped out, if needed.

Providing updated financial results, Tesla said its revenue for the first quarter of this year was flat at $20.81 million compared with the same period a year ago, while its net loss widened to $29.5 million.

 

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