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PALO ALTO, California (Reuters) - Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp is taking a $50 million stake in California electric carmaker Tesla Motors, which will take over a closed San Francisco-area Toyota plant for its all-electric sedan, the companies said on Thursday.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk described the investment as a "gesture of support" from Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, who approached him and struck a deal in a whirlwind corporate romance that included dinner at Musk's house and a test ride around Los Angeles in a pricey electric Roadster sport car.

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