By John Voelcker / Green Car Reports: Electric-car maker Tesla Motors has had many interesting and unexpected effects in its decade of existence. It’s launched a series of electric cars with 200 miles or more of range, which remain—eight years after its first Roadster—the only such cars sold today that can make that claim.
Perhaps one of its more unexpected impacts has been on automaking in an unlikely place.
Back in 2009, when the company was evaluating locations in which to build its first mass-produced vehicle, it looked at sites not only in its home state of California but also other Western states.
The domestic auto industry was then in the process of shrinking back to a center of gravity in about five core states, among them Michigan and Ohio, and it has since added lower-cost plants in Mexico.
But after a meeting between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and new Toyota CEO and scion Akio Toyoda, Tesla abruptly changed course. Toyota agreed in May 2010 to take a minority share in Tesla, while Tesla simultaneously agreed to buy Toyota’s shuttered assembly plant in Fremont, California.
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