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By Mark Kleis

When Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. first announced that they had formed an agreement, speculation ran rampant that this new alliance would result in the swapping of platforms and technology between the two automakers – potentially changing the landscape of the automotive industry down to its core.

Now, The New York Times has revealed the details from the filings made by Tesla with the Securities and Exchange Commission, making previous theories of Tesla-Toyota cross-pollination appear to be overzealous. The filings points to Tesla and Toyota have a “loose engagement,” according to the NYT, as it really only calls for the two automakers to attempt to work together on the condition that Tesla’s crucial IPO goes as hoped.

The big news that initially surrounded the tie-up was that Tesla would gain a location to produce its future Model S – among other vehicles – at the NUMMI plant that was recently closed by Toyota, in Fremont, California, at the price of $42 million. As part of that arrangement, Toyota was to purchase $50 million in Tesla stock once the IPO took place.

Now, new details show that even the agreement for the NUMMI plant is still up in the air, as the agreement gives Toyota the right to walk away from the entire deal should Tesla not successfully complete its IPO in 2010. This raises concern, even for those at Tesla, as they suggested that a successful IPO relies on the Model S, and the success of the Model S inversely relies heavily on the IPO.

“We have no operating history with respect to the Model S electric vehicle and have only recently begun the component procurement process for the Model S,” Tesla said in the statement. “If we do not successfully address these risks, our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition will be materially and adversely harmed.”

No future co-development of models?

The filing by Tesla with the SEC also made it clear that the two automakers may never get to a point where they would jointly develop vehicles, even if the IPO goes as planned. Ultimately, the loose agreement between the two automakers could prove to be little more than an elaborate deal to boost the images of both automakers, while simultaneously addressing the negative publicity associated with the closing of the NUMMI plant.



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