Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tesla and Toyota Join Forces


These two automotive companies from opposite extremes of manufacturing scale are starting a 'joint project' to build electric cars together. Somewhat like the Geely/vovlo/PML merger I blogged; upcoming new-tech companies being assimilated or formally backed by the powerful existing market leaders.

Toyota-Tesla should have a sizeable lead over Geely et al, with the Prius already dominating the hybrid market, not to mention Geely currently produce less than 4% as many cars as Toyota (the world leading manufacture). However, looking at it from another angle: Geely's vehicle sales shot up 59% in 2009, outstripping their own targets during a global recession. Also, they are China based. China overtook the US to be the country producing the 2nd most road vehicles in 2008. By the end of 2009 they had almost doubled Japan's yearly figure; that's more than the US and Japan combined.

I don't see as much raw technology innovation within Tesla (as with PML's drive system), and the Prius still has fairly modest capabilities. My prediction is that the Toyota-Tesla partnership will either:

- Come up with some equally advanced electric drive train advances.

- Loose market share, perhaps even market dominance, in the longer term.

Of course, pretty much every car manufacturer has *something* electric due out in the next few years: Plug-In Vehicle Tracker: What’s Coming, When

+ Of the worlds most fecund manufacturers:

- GM's volt is due out this year. It has offerings for Israel and Denmark too, which is significant because they are trial locations for ubiquitous electric car infrastructure rollout. Renault and Nissan are partnered up for that already. See YouTube video explanation, or Shai Agassi's inspirational TED speech.

- Nissan's "Leaf" has sold out in for 2010 (though no production until 2012/2013).

- VW has good solid diesel cars, which are going to be more environmentally friendly over for some time, but the company could get left out if their 'halo' electric concept cars don't start rolling of production lines too.

- Honda has hybrids out, right now, that presumably square up to Toyota's. However, no plug-ins with release dates, and they've wasted a lot of effort on hydrogen powered research.

+ Source for Automotive Industry figures (with pretty graphs): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_industry

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