Toyota Tesla tie-up for Electric Vehicles

Toyota Motor Corp.  is slated to team up with Tesla Motors Inc. – the only all-electric car manufacturer from Silicon Valley that makes cars that are highway-legal– in a partnership that is being considered a major windfall for Toyota.  The Toyota plant in California, which is now defunct, is being bought out by Tesla who have announced their intention of working together to manufacture an electric sedan called the Model S, to be unveiled in 2012.

The two companies are going to combine their synergies into increasing and widening their technological knowhow for new electric vehicles and also to improvise on their methods of manufacturing processes to try and bring in low-polluting vehicles and parts into the market.  Toyota will invest in Tesla stock to the tune of $50 million.

toyota tesla tie up

Tesla will have access to the well established Toyota’s immense dealer base and Toyota is expected to get the much needed shot in the arm to compete with rival car manufacturers in the expanding market for environmentally friendly electric vehicles.  In their hybrid Prius, for example, Toyota will be installing lithium-ion batteries made by Tesla, instead of the formerly used hydride units made from nickel.

With the advent of more and more vehicle owners replacing their cars with “green” hybrid vehicles, the local markets for electric cars really seems to be gathering momentum and it is the right time for partnerships like Tesla-Toyota to be getting ready for the high demand it anticipates.

The deal is also expected to help Toyota in selling electric cars in competition with other companies like General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. in the U.S. because regulations are getting more stringent with regard to fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

Tesla is based in California and is currently the only vehicle manufacturer in the U.S.  selling battery-powered cars that are legal to be driven on the highway.  In the market of hybrid autos, Toyota too is one of the largest sellers and is headquartered in Toyota City in Japan.  The tie-up is expected to help the United States become independent from using imported energy resources and ushering in the use of electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

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Meguru – Bamboo and Paper Electric Vehicle

If you visit popular tourist places in Japan, you are bound to see traditional Japanese art souvenirs like wooden and paper umbrellas.  But next time you visit Kyoto or Nara, you may be able to take a ride in an Electric Vehicle taxi which is made out of Bamboo and Wood Pulp Paper!

Well, this is not a joke! Japanese companies Yodogawa and Kinki Knives Industries have developed a prototype thee wheeler Electric Vehicle named Meguru, which is more like a three-wheeler auto-rickshaw used in countries like India and Thailand.  This electric auto rickshaw features steel frame painted with red lacquer, and it resembles the red tori gates of shrines in Japan.  The vehicle has bamboo flooring, and its doors are crafted from Japanese washi paper, resemble the folding fan.  At night, the vehicle looks like a lantern as the lights inside glow through the paper doors.  A driver sits in front, and one or two passengers sit in back on a couch.  Kyoto craftsmen helped to give a distinctly Japanese traditional touch to the styling of this vehicle.

meguru electric car

Well, this electric vehicle is not meant for driving on highways.  Meguru is designed for use as a taxi.  This vehicle inspired by the traditional jin-rickshaw and Japanese culture is meant to attract customers in popular tourist places like Kyoto, Nara, Nikko and Asakusa which are famous for the traditional Japanese culture.  The electric vehicle can run at a maximum speed of 40 km/hour and a range of 40 km.  It needs just two hours from charging from household power supply.  Thus, it is an eco-friendly and affordable, way to go around the town in style.

The makers of Meguru are serious about selling this electric car made of traditional materials such as bamboo and paper.  Meguru is expected to go on sale in Japan for around $10,000.

In old Japanese cities like Nara and Kyoto, which have old temples and palaces, with old type jin-rickshaws still plying in the streets, the Meguru probably would not look out of place. The  bamboo and paper would give it an air of old-style craftsmanship, and environment lovers would definitely love its zero-emission ride.

I liked the idea of using traditional indigenous materials like bamboo, lacquer and washi paper in vehicles.  Though it may not be the safest idea to use bamboo in vehicle body, Meguru’s bamboo floor is both tough and elegant.  Next time, you visit Osaka for Japanese used car auction, just remind me to have a pleasure ride in Meguru taxi.

For more pictures and videos of Meguru electric car, check the news at Japan Trends.

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