We've already reported on Toyota and Tesla Motors forming a partnership to develop electric vehicles, but now we've learned a little more about the program. According to an official release from Toyota, the two are working together to build a fleet of electric RAV4 compact SUVs, which are due to hit the market in the next two years.
The official announcement is billed as the first of several "updates" on the project promised by Toyota Motor Company president Akio Toyoda. According to Toyoda's statement, the first prototype of the new RAV4 EV has been completed and is currently undergoing a battery (no pun intended) of tests. Ultimately, the prototype will be the crest of a wave as Toyota and Tesla plan on building a fleet of the electric compact SUVs. According to the automaker, the first next-generation RAV4 EV will be pushed into the consumer market in 2012.
Toyota hopes the liason with Tesla, which was formally inked back in May, will help it develop, produce, and manufacture electric vehicles in a short time frame. In a very NUMMI-like twist, Tesla hopes to learn the ways of Toyota's manufacturing process and gain from its engineering expertise, while Toyota reportedly aims to capitalize on Tesla's "daring spirit," along with its EV technology.
As previously reported, the RAV4 EV will utilize a lithium-ion battery pack supplied by Tesla, but officials at both companies have refrained from releasing more details on the new vehicle. Likewise, we haven't heard any more information surrounding another electric vehicle, which has been reported to be based upon the Lexus RX.
Hopefully, we'll learn more about the program in Toyota's next update. Should all go well, look for the second iteration of the RAV4 EV to reach consumers in about two years.