Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is to plough US$50m into high performance electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors.

The Japanese automaker’s decision to take a US$50m stake will see both companies cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts, production systems and engineering support.

“I sensed the potential of Tesla’s technology and was impressed by its dedication,” said TMC president Akio Toyoda.  “Through this partnership with a venture business such as Tesla, Toyota would like to learn from the decision-making and flexibility that Tesla has.”

Tesla Motors recently purchased the former GM/Toyota joint venture factory in Fremont, California, formerly known as New United Motor Manufacturing Inc or NUMMI. The plant will build the Model S sedan among other vehicles.

“We look forward to learning and benefiting from Toyota’s engineering, manufacturing and production expertise,” said Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk.

TMC started leasing Prius plug-in hybrids last year, which can be charged using an external power source such as a household electric outlet. The company plans to introduce EVs by 2012.

Palo Alto-based Tesla has delivered over 1,000 Lotus-based Roadsters in North America, Europe and Asia. It is currently the only automaker in the US that builds and sells highway-capable EVs in serial production.

TMC’s stock purchase will be issued in a private placement to finish subsequent to the closing of Tesla’s currently planned initial public offering.