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Toyota Displays Tesla-Supplied Electric RAV4 to U.S. Dealers

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest seller of hybrid cars, gave U.S. dealers a first look at an electric sport-utility vehicle developed with affiliate Tesla Motors Inc. as Toyota prepares to boost sales of advanced autos.

The RAV4 EV that Toyota plans to sell in the U.S. by 2012 was shown at Toyota’s annual dealer meeting in Las Vegas yesterday, said Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who appeared at the meeting with Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

Musk, reached via e-mail, and Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman, declined to discuss details of the meeting.

Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, bought a $50 million stake in Palo Alto, California-based Tesla this year to collaborate in battery-powered vehicles. Tesla, which this month acquired Toyota’s former joint-venture plant in Fremont, California, is providing the battery pack, motor and electronic controls for the compact SUV.

Toyota said in a statement yesterday it’s readying a range of advanced vehicles, including more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles, without elaborating.

Tesla, also partially owned by Daimler AG, yesterday opened its new headquarters to the media, showing its battery and electric-motor assembly lines and engineering labs for the first time. Along with the electric RAV4, Tesla is supplying lithium-ion battery packs and other components for electric versions of Daimler’s Smart and Mercedes A-Class small cars.

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