June 5 (UPI) — Toyota Motor Corp. sold its 2.3 million shares in Tesla Motor, Inc., a Toyota spokeswoman said, indicating the two former partners are now rivals.
The sale was conducted quietly in 2016, ending a six-year collaboration on electric-powered cars. The partnership began in 2010, prior to Tesla’s initial public offering, with Toyota’s $50 million investment in Tesla. Toyota also sold an abandoned factory in California to Tesla for $42 million.
“Toyota originally had a strong cutting-edge reputation with its hybrid electric vehicles, but now the market considers them as a follower in the electric vehicle business, and maybe Tesla the leader in terms of brand image or reputation. Now [Toyota] needs to recover its previous position,” Toyota spokeswoman Masahiro Akita said Monday.
The two companies collaborated on developing electric vehicles for the Canadian market by 2011, selling 2,500 vehicles. Culture clashes and recalls were common, Bloomberg News reported Monday, and the combined manufacturing effort effectively ended by 2014.
Toyota’s stake in Tesla, a June 2016 report said, was valued at $538 million. Shares of Tesla traded for about 10 times their initial public offering price of $17 per share during most of 2016; it has gained about 60 percent more in 2017.