Tesla scores $100M supply deal with Toyota for RAV4 EV

Electric car company Tesla Motors (s TSLA) has scored a coveted $100 million supply deal with Toyota to produce an electric version of Toyota’s RAV-4, according to a filing. Tesla already had a research and development agreement with Toyota for the RAV4 EV, but this is the first time that Tesla and Toyota have revealed that the R&D deal has turned into a much larger supply agreement.

The supply arrangement calls for Tesla to provide an electric powertrain system for the car, which includes a battery, a charging system, an inverter, a motor, a gearbox and software, according to the filing. The car companies say manufacturing of the RAV4 EV is expected to start in 2012 and continue into 2014 — $100 million is the estimated value of the entire manufacturing deal over that period of time. While there have been some reports in recent weeks that the RAV4 EV would only be sold to fleets, Tesla tells me that’s not true.

The deal comes at a really important time for Tesla. As I noted last month Tesla has been moving into a difficult financial period between when it stops producing its inaugural car the Roadster at the end of the year (which generated the bulk of its revenues), and when it will start making its second EV, the Model S sedan later in 2012. But this supply deal will go a long way toward keeping the revenues coming in.

For the most recent quarter that ended March 31, 2011, Tesla’s development services revenue hit $15.4 million, largely driven by its work on the RAV4 EV. Tesla said in March that the current RAV4 EV R&D deal was expected to deliver another $45 million in additional revenue for “the remaining development services which we currently expect to complete in the fourth quarter of 2011 or the first quarter of 2012.” In total, Tesla expected to reap about $60 million from the R&D portion of the Toyota RAV4 EV deal. Toyota also previously invested $50 million in Tesla.

Tesla’s stock shot up over 5 percent on the news to $29.30.

Watch our video interview with Toyota about the RAV4 EV: