Tesla Opens Factory, Looks Ahead to Model X SUV

Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) on Wednesday opened its new California factory for electric vehicles, and discussed its collaboration with Toyota (NYSE: TM) and future plans for an all-electric SUV.

The new Tesla Factory is where the company will make its second vehicle–the Model S electric sedan.

In May, Tesla purchased what was formerly the NUMMI factory. That factory, which previously built GM and Toyota vehicles, closed in April. Tesla’s revamping of the plant is supported by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee.

The Tesla Factory is now the only auto assembly plant in California, and
the first facility dedicated exclusively to the mass production of
electric vehicles. 

“This is a momentous day in Tesla history, turning our advanced electric vehicle technology into a mass manufacturing reality,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Toyota RAV4 Collaboration

Tesla’s vice president of manufacturing, Gilbert Passin, told Bloomberg his company and Toyota are considering whether or not to build a battery-powered RAV 4 at the California plant.

Toyota has already commited to developing the SUV with Tesla, paying the company $60 million to develop electric components. But the Japanese automaker has yet to decide where the vehicle–planned for release in 2012–will be assembled. 

Model X SUV

After Tesla launches the Model S sedan in 2012, the company intends to turn its attention to developing its own all-electric SUV, called the Model X. 

Musk told Greentech Media he hopes to have a prototype of the vehicle completed by the end of 2011. He added that production ideally would begin within two years of Model S production (i.e. by 2014).

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