One of the more eagerly awaited green vehicles at next week's 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show is the electric RAV4 crossover that Toyota will launch in partnership with Tesla Motors.
Now we learn that the initial order is for little more than a test fleet of perhaps 2,000 vehicles, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. That's enough to gather data, but it's hardly a volume production model, and indeed Musk called it a "test fleet."
And that's probably not surprising, considering Toyota's normally conservative nature and the fact that it's never before used Tesla as a supplier, let alone for components as crucial as a lithium-ion battery pack, electric motor, and control electronics.
L.A. Auto Show: Toyota RAV4 EV teasers
Yesterday, Toyota released teaser images of a RAV4 speedometer bearing the message "RAV4 Powered by Tesla" in its electronic display.
The company also showed a "Toyota EV" badge that had seen before, with different coloration, on Toyota's FT-EV concept car.
The delivery of a pair of prototype Toyota RAV4 electrics with Tesla powertrains was first reported last summer. The display of a finished model at the LA Show indicates how quickly this project is moving.
Perhaps in anticipation of next week's launch, Tesla stock has recently risen to heights not seen since its soared from its offering price of $17 to close at $23.89 in late June. The stock [NASDAQ:TSLA] closed yesterday at more than $29, its highest price yet.
Nonetheless, despite a parade of investors that includes Daimler, Toyota, and most recently Panasonic, auto-industry analysts do not expect Tesla to remain an independent car company.
Instead, they say, it is likely to be purchased by a global automaker.