Toyota Motor Corp., which built about 2,500 electric vehicles over three years with Tesla Motors Inc., said it’s recalling the RAV4 EVs to repair components supplied by Tesla.
A software flaw in the RAV4 EV’s propulsion system may cause the vehicle to shift into neutral and result in a complete loss of driving power, increasing the risk of a crash, according to a statement posted on Toyota’s U.S. website. Tesla supplied the component that Toyota dealers will repair, Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.
Toyota doesn’t discuss supplier relations in the context of product recalls or cost details, Knight said. Ricardo Reyes, a Tesla spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment sent outside normal business hours.
The RAV4 EV program ended last year, with Toyota and Tesla’s respective chief executives Akio Toyoda and Elon Musk pursuing separate paths to cars that produce zero emissions. Toyota began assembling its hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel-cell vehicle in Japan in December, while Tesla is preparing for the summer introduction of its plug-in Model X SUV to sell alongside its Model S sedan.
Musk, 43, is one of the most prominent skeptics of the prospects for hydrogen-powered cars embraced by Toyota. He called them “extremely silly” at a January press conference in Detroit and has disparaged fuel cells as “fool cells.”
“I think this is not classy,” Yoshimi Inaba, executive chairman of Toyota’s U.S. sales unit, said of Musk’s remark in a Bloomberg Markets magazine story published in its April issue.
The agreement to build RAV4 EV together was part of a broader partnership between Toyota and Tesla that began in May 2010, before Musk was winning acclaim for the Model S. Toyota bought a $50 million stake in Tesla and sold its shuttered California factory to the company for about $42 million. Work on the RAV4 EV began months later.
Toyota said in October that it began to reduce its Tesla stake while declining to discuss details about the size or timing of the sale. Toyota held 2.94 million Tesla shares as of March 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.