Daimler buys stake in Tesla

German carmaker Daimler has taken an equity stake of nearly 10 per cent of Tesla Motors, maker of the Roadster electric sports car. Tesla is the only production automaker selling a highway capable electric vehicle in North America and Europe.

The two companies have already been working closely to integrate Tesla’s lithium-ion battery packs and charging electronics into the first 1,000 units of Daimler’s electric smart car.

In order to benefit from each other’s know-how, the investment enables the partners to collaborate even more closely on the development of battery systems, electric drive systems and individual vehicle projects.

“Daimler has set the benchmark for engineering excellence and vehicle quality for more than a century. It is an honour and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Daimler would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla,” said Tesla CEO and product architect Elon Musk.

Tesla is particularly interested in Daimler's lithium-ion pouch-cell battery, and also expects to benefit from the larger company's engineering, production and supply chain expertise, which will help as Tesla moves towards production of the Model S electric sedan.

As part of the collaboration, Prof. Herbert Kohler, vice president e-drive and future mobility at Daimler AG, will take a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.

Through its participation in the Deutsche Accumotive joint venture and a stockholding in Li-Tec, Daimler claims to be the first vehicle manufacturer worldwide that develops, produces and markets lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications.

In addition, the company has 100 Smart electric cars undergoing large-scale trials by fleet operators and private customers in London. Later this year the Smart assembly plant in France will start production of up to 1,000 second-generation smart for two cars with electric drive for mobility projects such as e-mobility Berlin or e-mobility Italy.

Small-series production starts this year of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class with a fuel cell drive system, and the first battery-powered Mercedes-Benz is due in 2010. As of 2012, Daimler plans to equip all Smart and Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles with own produced lithium-ion batteries.

In 2004, Tesla began development of its first electric vehicle, the high-performance Roadster, which remains the only highway capable electric vehicle for sale in North America and Europe and the first US- and EU-certified lithium-ion battery electric vehicle. This green supercar accelerates from 0 to 60mph in 3.9 seconds yet gets the equivalent of 256 miles per gallon. The Roadster, which travels an estimated 244 miles per charge with zero tailpipe emissions, is the first production vehicle to break the historical compromise between automobile performance and efficiency.

The Tesla Model S builds upon the success of the Roadster. Unveiled in March 2009, the Model S will be a mass-produced electric family car that carries seven people and travels up to 300 miles per charge. Tesla hopes to start production in California in late 2011.

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