Akio Toyoda

Electric RAV4 jolts Toyota

Electric RAV4 jolts Toyota

The much-vaunted systems used by Toyota Motor Corp. to churn out millions of vehicles are being put to one side as the automaker tries to crack new markets in the U.S.

Speed has been at the fore in Toyota's joint development of an electric version of its RAV4 sport-utility vehicle with startup manufacturer Tesla Motors.

On May 20, Toyota and Tesla made the surprising announcement that they were forming a corporate tie-up. But that was not the only startling development.

"We made the first prototype car in only three weeks," said Shigeki Terashi, president of Toyota Technical Center USA. Despite being on the front line of the joint development, even Terashi...