Toyota is trialling rechargeable petrol-electric Prius models in several key markets. This one is in London

Toyota is trialling rechargeable petrol-electric Prius models in several key markets. This one is in London

Electric car maker Tesla said it will deliver two rechargeable prototypes to Toyota this month as a first step in their alliance. 

Toyota announced in May that it would invest US$50m in California-based Tesla and jointly develop electric models. The EV maker recently bought Toyota's former California assembly plant in Fremont.

Tesla told Bloomberg News that both prototypes are modified Toyota vehicles.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said the partnership with Tesla is the first of more such alliances the company wants to pursue in advanced vehicle technologies.

The project with Tesla is separate from a previously announced electric car Toyota plans to sell by 2012, Toyoda said. Toyota has said it’s working on a two-passenger "urban commuter" electric car with a range of around 80km (50 miles). 

Toyoda added that Toyota is pursuing a multidirectional strategy for future vehicles that includes vehicles powered by hydrogen, batteries and other alternative fuels.

“By having Tesla we think our omni-directional approach is becoming even more robust. How they use batteries, how we use batteries, how the vehicles are used, there are many things we can share in these areas.” 

Unlike many carmakers, Tesla vehicles use thousands of the same type of small lithium-ion battery cells that power laptop computers. Toyota said it wants to study that approach to see if it offers advantages over using larger types of battery cells.

Tesla is also working with Daimler on electric vehicles and has supplied battery packs for use in Smart models.