Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has just made serious progress in two of its big near-term goals: going public and building the Model S on a large scale. The company has just announced that Toyota, one of the world’s largest automakers, has agreed to buy $50 million worth of Tesla stock once the purveyor of EVs goes public. Even more surprising, the Model S now has a manufacturing facility. The electric sedan will be built at the Nummi facility, a former Toyota plant in Fremont, Calif.
The benefits for Tesla are fairly straightforward. Until now, the EV maker had been seriously eying constructing its own brand-new facility. Analysts were skeptical as to whether or not the company could build a plant from the ground up and still be able to meet its target launch date for the Model S, so the fact that it now has a new physical home capable of cranking out 500,000 vehicles a year is good news. The move helps to put worrisome investors at ease and is the best proof that we can expect the Model S to arrive on time and ready to go.
Speaking of putting the investors at ease, few things say “confidence” quite like having an automotive leviathan like Toyota on your side. The fact that the Japanese automaker has committed to purchasing $50 million worth of Tesla stock means that someone at Toyota thinks very highly of the EV maker, and that means Tesla will have the money it needs to pursue future projects.
But what does Toyota have to gain from all of this? It’s hard to tell just yet, but there’s a good chance that the company is getting nervous at the sight of the all-new Nissan Leaf. The car has the potential to be the first mass-production electric vehicle that people can buy, not lease, and there’s a big race going on right now to see which company will be the first to get a car to market and the keys in owners’ hands. Are Toyota execs hoping to get Tesla to share a little tech? We wouldn’t put it past them.