TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. and its electric-car affiliate Tesla Motors Inc. will use the Japanese automaker's RAV4 and Lexus RX crossovers as their first jointly developed battery-powered test models, a person familiar with the matter said.
Toyota will receive two prototypes this month, Tesla said July 10 without elaborating. While Toyota also aims to test an electric Corolla, the RAV4 and RX are better suited to the weight of Tesla's battery pack, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the models haven't been announced yet.
Toyota's President Akio Toyoda said last week the partnership with Tesla, maker of the $109,000 electric Roadster, is the first of several the Toyota City, Japan-based company wants to pursue in advanced auto technologies. Toyota, the world's largest seller of hybrid autos, bought a $50 million stake in Palo Alto, California-based Tesla this month.
“We anticipate range and acceleration exceeding that of other announced electric vehicles of this class,” Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla, said today in an e-mailed message. He declined to discuss project details.
Keisuke Kirimoto, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Toyota, said he couldn't confirm the models. Toyota bought its stake in Tesla July 2, he said.
The target for a model developed with Tesla would be for a car that costs about $40,000 with 150 miles (240 kilometers) of driving range per charge, the person familiar with the plans said.
“Toyota and Tesla engineering teams have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time,” JB Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer, said in a July 10 e-mail message.
Toyota was unchanged at 3,120 yen today in Tokyo trading. Tesla, which listed shares last month, fell 6 cents to $17.40 on Friday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.
Carmakers are under pressure from regulators to develop models that use little or no petroleum and emit fewer gases linked to global warming.
Unlike Toyota, Nissan Motor Co., and other companies readying battery models, Tesla vehicles use thousands of the same type of small lithium-ion battery cells that power laptop computers.
Toyota Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki told reporters Friday in Nagoya, Japan, that the company wants to study that approach to see if it has advantages over using larger types of battery cells.
Panasonic Corp., which has a joint venture with Toyota that makes nickel-metal hydride batteries for hybrid autos and lithium-ion batteries for plug-in models, said in January it would work with Tesla to develop modified lithium-ion cells for use in electric cars.
“Since Tesla didn't develop its battery pack from scratch, there's a cost advantage,” said Hiroshi Ataka, an analyst at consulting company IHS Global Insight in Tokyo.
Nissan, Japan's third-largest carmaker, plans to start selling its Leaf electric car in the U.S. and Japan later this year. General Motors Co., the Detroit-based carmaker planning an initial public offering, will also introduce its Chevrolet Volt plug-in car in the U.S. late this year.
Toyota's project with Tesla is separate from a previously announced electric car Toyota aims to sell by 2012, Toyoda said last week.
“While Toyota may be studying Tesla's technology, Toyota has been researching its own electric car batteries, so it may be unlikely to use Tesla's,” Ataka said.