The all-electric version of the Toyota Rav4 will go on sale next year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has confirmed.

The baby SUV, first seen at last year’s LA motor show, comes equipped with a Tesla electric powertrain and Musk believes it will be “the best small electric car on the market” when sales start next year.

See images of the Toyota RAV4 EV

Musk added that the partnership between the two firms was progressing well. “Toyota is a great supporter and advisor for Tesla, particularly on manufacturing,” he said.

Tesla acquired the former Toyota/GM NUMMI factory in Fremont, California last year to build its future range of electric models, although the electric Rav4 will be assembled by Toyota in Canada in spite of the capacity at Fremont.

“That’s Toyota’s choice,” said Musk. “We will assemble the battery packs and drivetrains and they will assemble the cars.”

Musk also said he would not like to see a potential sale of Tesla in the future to another manufacturer or another group, promising that it “will remain independent for the next few years” if it were up to him. But as Musk owns just one third of a company, a takeover is possible.

“Tesla is a catalyst for the industry and is pushing forward electric vehicle development,” he said on his reasoning behind wanting the Silicon Valley firm to remain independent. “We will carry on as we are, pushing forward and showing people that not only are electric vehicles viable, they are also the best.

“Major manufacturers were taking too long to develop electric cars so it needed a firm like Tesla to act as a catalyst.”

Musk also stood by his prediction of half of all cars sold around the world in 2030 being electric.

Mark Tisshaw