Toyota taps Tesla to bring back electric RAV4

The two carmakers end speculation and announce the plan to build an electric RAV4 with the goal of delivering it to the U.S. in 2012.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica

Tesla Motors and Toyota will develop an electric version of the latter's RAV4.

The SUV will be a RAV4 with an electric powertrain supplied by Tesla, the companies said Friday. Tesla said it has already built a prototype and hopes to create a fleet of prototypes in a year.

The electric RAV4, which Toyota stopped making in 2003, is coming back through a deal with Tesla. CC Mike Weston/Flickr

The goal is to release a car in the U.S. in 2012.

In May, Tesla and Toyota announced an agreement in which Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla and they two pledged to collaborate on electric vehicles. Tesla also purchased the NUMMI plant in California.

It wasn't until this month, though, that Toyota and Tesla signed a specific production agreement.

By making an electric RAV4 with Tesla, Toyota is bringing back a popular electric vehicle now highly sought by e-car enthusiasts. The all-electric SUV, made from 1997 to 2003, had a range of 100 miles and reached speeds of up to 78 mph.

Tesla made a splash when it went public at the end of last month, but its stock has since drifted downward and is now below the price at the end of first day of trading.

The electric car company has pinned its fortunes on the production of the Model S, a sleek all-electric sedan that Tesla plans to start making at the NUMMI plant in 2012. It is also seeking to bring in revenue through its powertrain business.