May 25, 2010 – The Electric Car Stakes Heat Up

Featured Trades: (TESLA MOTORS S-1), (TM)

3) The Electric Car Stakes Heat Up. Civic boosters in Fremont, California were apoplectic with joy over the weekend on news that a new Tesla Motors-Toyota joint venture would build its all-electric 'S-model' there. The $50,000 Tesla sedan will be built at the old NUMMI plant, a Toyota-GM venture that produced Corollas. The ill fated plant closed only last month, tossing 10,000 workers and local suppliers out of work.  Production will begin in 2012, and be confined to a small corner of the facility to produce 20,000 vehicles a year, bringing back at least 1,000 jobs. The old NUMMI venture built 500,000 cars a year there. Toyota no doubt made its $50 million investment to get a beachhead in the all-electric space. The company's own long term strategy has it persisting with hybrids for another decade until fuel cell technology matures. Tesla, which has only built 1,000 of its $100,000 roadsters to date, is no doubt getting a tutorial in mass production from the world's greatest practitioner. The development takes the San Francisco Bay Area a step closer towards supplementing Detroit as a major alternative power auto maker, maximizing its advantages in technology. It's good news for me, as the lease on my electric Nissan LEAF with be up just as the new Teslas begin rolling off the assembly line (click here for the LEAF story). The big outstanding question is whether the notoriously mercurial Elan Musk can function as the junior partner to the ultra conservative and taciturn Eiichi Toyoda.

tesla-s-1.jpg picture by madhedge