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Elon Musk hints at another big Toyota-Tesla collaboration

Elon Musk hinted at a significant project with Toyota in the next few years at a ceremony to launch the Tesla Model S in Japan. Toyota owns a 2.4 percent stake in Tesla Motors. 

Toru Hanai/Reuters/File
Tesla Motors Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk poses with a Tesla Model S electric car in Tokyo September 8, 2014. Musk said on Monday that he would not be surprised if there was a significant deal with Toyota Motor Corp in the next two to three years, though there were no definitive plans.

Tesla can now add Japan to the list of countries that its Model S electric sedan is roaming the roads.

CEO Elon Musk appeared at a recent ceremony to launch the car, but also used the occasion to hint that there may be another project with Toyota in the pipeline.

According to Automotive News, Tesla and Toyota could work on another "significant" project in the next two to three years.

Musk said such a project could be "on a much higher volume level" than the two firms' last project, the Toyota RAV4 EV.

That project is soon drawing to a close, following an announcement earlier in the year that Tesla's deal to supply battery packs for the crossover would end.

Toyota, which has a 2.4 percent stake in Tesla Motors, has sold 2,130 RAV4 EVs through August. The firm aims to sell the final few cars of a 2,500 vehicle production run by the end of the year.

The Japanese firm has "nothing to say" on Musk's latest comments, and remains non-committal on future collaborations between the two companies.

Musk's comments do send out a slightly confusing message though, given Toyota's general stance on electric vehicles.

Along with Honda but unlike rival Nissan, Toyota has put its faith in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles, rather than battery electric cars as the future of clean transportation.

Toyota has worked with German automaker BMW on developing its hydrogen fuel cell drive system, which is set to debut in a production vehiclethe Fuel Cell Sedan, next year.

Other than the RAV4 EV and its 1990s predecessor, and the tiny-range Scion iQ EV, Toyota has otherwise steered clear of electric power, concentrating on maintaining thehigh levels of hybrid sales it enjoys around the globe.

Despite once labeling Toyota's preferred fuel cells as "fool cells", Musk says he has "a huge amount of respect" for Toyota, "and certainly much to learn."

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