Toyota Sold Remaining Tesla Stock Last Year: From Partners To Electric Car Rivals

Toyota has sold its remaining stake in Tesla last year, according to spokeswoman Akiko Kita for the biggest carmaker in Japan.

The move marks the end of the partnership between the two companies, as Toyota and Tesla emerge as rivals in the burgeoning electric car industry.

Toyota-Tesla Partnership

In 2010, Toyota purchased an about 3 percent stake in Tesla worth $50 million, just as automobile manufacturers were looking to release vehicles that offered lower pollution footprints. Toyota also sold an abandoned factory in California for $42 million to Tesla.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk described the partnership as a historic one, adding that he had long admired Toyota. Toyota president Akio Toyoda took the Tesla Roadster for a test drive a month earlier, claiming that he felt "the wind of the future."

The team-up between the two companies, however, fell apart shortly afterward.

Toyota and Tesla took their newfound partnership to develop an electric version of Toyota's RAV4 in Canada in 2011, with Tesla supplying the electric powertrain of the vehicle until 2014. The electric RAV4 only sold around 2,500 units over a span of three years, amid vehicle recalls and culture clashes between the two companies. The partnership then faltered and came to a standstill.

Toyota Cashes Out Of Tesla

As of July 2016, Toyota only had a 1.43 percent stake in Tesla. According to Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai, the company had sold all the remaining Tesla shares it held by the end of last year as part of Toyota's review of its investments.

"Our development partnership with Tesla ended a while ago, and since there has not been any new developments on that front, we decided it was time to sell the remaining stake," Sakai said.

Toyota initially sold a portion of its stake in Tesla in 2014, after the electric RAV4 program was terminated.

Toyota cashed out of Tesla just as the company announced its own all-electric vehicle program, as Toyota was late to jumping into the industry due to its heavy investment in hydrogen fuel cells.

It was not until late 2016 when Toyota announced that Toyoda will lead a new EV Business Planning division that will look to release an all-electric vehicle by 2020, after the company's engineers claimed to have tamed lithium-ion battery technology.

The move marked a significant change in the company's strategy after it focused on hydrogen fuel cells as the alternative power source for vehicles instead of electric batteries.

Toyota Looks To The Future

Toyota has now added its name to the ever-growing list of automobile manufacturers entering the electric car industry, which is currently dominated by Tesla.

However, in addition to finally adding electric vehicles to its strategy, Toyota is also setting its sights on another means of transportation. Cartivator, a startup that the company decided to invest in, has successfully flown a test model for its flying car.

The concept model of the flying car, named the Skydrive, is planned to be unveiled in July. The vehicle is targeted to be used for the torch lighting of the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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