What does it cost to develop an electric vehicle these days?
In the case of the upcoming electric Toyota RAV4 crossover, $60 million.
At least, that's the amount that Toyota will pay Tesla Motors under a contract to supply lithium-ion battery packs, electric motors, gearboxes, power electronics modules, software, and other components for the RAV4 electric conversion.
The contract came to light yesterday in a Tesla filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Last May, Tesla and Toyota startled the automotive world by announcing a partnership under which Toyota would invest $50 million in Tesla Motors.
Tesla, in turn, would pay Toyota $42 million for the shuttered Fremont, California, assembly plant that had previously build Toyota Corollas (and Pontiac Vibes) in a partnership with General Motors that was dissolved following GM's 2009 bankruptcy.
[UPDATE: Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes says the original report via Bloomberg that Tesla would develop two separate electric models for Toyota. was erroneous, and may have been further confused later by the fact that Tesla had developed two prototype RAV4 vehicles.]
The companies subsequently announced that Tesla would develop two separate electric models for Toyota. In July, one of those models was revealed to be the RAV4 crossover. The other is thought to be an electric version of the Corolla sedan.
Toyota RAV4e electric vehicle, San Francisco, March 2010
A prototype RAV4 Electric will be unveiled by Toyota at November's Los Angeles Auto Show.
The company plans to sell the electric RAV4 starting in 2012, the same year that a number of new electric cars will join the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt in the U.S. market.
In the filing, Tesla said it might produce 1,000 of the RAV4 Electric models at the Fremont plant, where it also plans to build its electric Model S luxury sports sedan.
Some analysts have suggested that while Tesla now sells its Roadster, and has plans to launch its Model S, the company's future may lie in providing powertrains to other makers.
The new electric RAV4 harkens back to a previous electric Toyota, the 1997-2003 RAV4 EV, which the company built in small numbers for sale under California zero-emission vehicle requirements that were later relaxed.
The few remaining privately owned RAV4 EV models are still running well, and are cherished not only by their owners but by EV enthusiasts at large.